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Choosing the Right Pet

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Choosing the Right Pet

Veterinary Viewpoints

Humans have been keeping pets since ancient times.  Pets have been shown to positively impact human health in many ways. 

They lower blood pressure, they calm us in times of stress, they give us a reason to get up in the morning, and provide us with unconditional love.  Our pets don’t care if we are having a bad hair day or are cranky from a difficult day at work. 

Try not to adopt or purchase a pet on a whim or inspiration.  Adding a pet to your family should be a deliberate, considered choice. 

If you are thinking about adding a pet to your family, it’s best to learn about the different needs of different types of pets and find one that fits your lifestyle.

Do you want a cat or a kitten, a dog or a puppy? Or perhaps you would like a potbellied pig, a goat, horse, alpaca or a lamb. There are also pocket pets, reptiles, birds and fish to consider.

Ask yourself these questions as you think about what kind of pet you would like to add to your family. 

What are the housing needs of the pet? Does it need an outdoor space for housing and exercise or is it suitable to be an indoor pet only?  Is this pet able to survive outside with adequate housing?  Rabbits, for example, can be kept outdoors with suitable housing. 

Can you live with pet hair, litter boxes or the wear and tear caused by pets? Are you willing to make modifications to your home if needed for a pet?

Are there any members of your household that may be allergic to a pet’s fur or dander?

How much time do you have each day to devote to your pet’s care and well-being?  Puppies need considerable time daily for potty training and leash handling, whereas kittens can often be easily trained to use the litter box. If you prefer a quiet life style you may wish to consider this when choosing your pet. 

Are you a night owl or a day person?  Some pets sleep during the day and stay up much of the night. 

If you work long hours, do you have the time in your schedule to provide care and companionship to a new pet?  Daycare for pets of owners who work long hours are springing up in many cities.

Do you have limitations in your budget for food and veterinary care?  A large dog will require a larger budget for dog food versus a pocket pet like a gerbil or hamster.  Emergency veterinary care may require significant resources.  Consider purchasing pet health insurance to help meet those needs. 

Is this pet suitable for the ages of your family members?  If you have small children, how will this pet acclimate to their noise and activity level?  Alternatively, the activity and size of a pet may be unsuitable when you live with senior family members.  Seniors should not have to worry about tripping over or being knocked over by an exuberant pet. 

How will you provide care for your pet when you travel for work or vacation?  Do you have someone to provide care when you are gone?

Explore the needs of different pets by talking to pet adoption agencies, your veterinarian, and local clubs that are dedicated to animals.  You might be surprised to learn that people have been keeping everything from crickets to ferrets for pets. 

Carefully consider which kind of pet will be the best fit for your family.  You will be able to choose among many animals for the pet that meets the needs of your family. 

by Elisabeth J. Giedt, DVM


Veterinary Viewpoints is provided by the faculty of the OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital.  Certified by the American Animal Hospital Association, the hospital is open to the public providing routine and specialized care for all species and 24-hour emergency care, 365 days a year.

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