When you decide you're ready for a pet, picking the right fit for you and/or your family is profoundly important. Although you might like kittens, think puppies are cute, or feel it would be really neat to have a lizard, that doesn't necessarily mean that the pet will fit in with your lifestyle. There are a number of things to consider when you're ready for an animal, but you can start out by following these tips on choosing the right pet.
First thing's first, of course. You need to give serious thought to the kind of pet you think you want. It might be something more traditional, like a dog, a cat, or a bunny (I have all three!). You might want a fish, a hamster, or a guinea pig. Or you might be more into the idea of a turtle, a frog, a snake, or a bird.
Once you've narrowed down your choices, you have to start planning ahead for things like pet care. No matter what kind of pet you get, it will likely need to make visits to the veterinarian through the course of its life. It will need vaccines, it may need to be spayed or neutered, and so on. You may even want to plan ahead in terms of getting veterinary insurance for your pet.
Pets take a lot of commitment. Having a pet really is like having a child to a degree, because you have to have plenty of time to spend with it, and plenty of patience to deal with it. Puppies need to be potty trained, after all, and cats and even rabbits need to be litter trained. All of this takes a lot of patience – and a lot of time. You have to make sure that you can work those things in your schedule.
Although different kinds of animals have different average lifespans, many of them can live for a long time. This may not be true for, say, hamsters and fish, but dogs and cats have pretty enviable lifespans, birds can live an incredibly long time, and even rabbits can last for decades. Some dogs can live fifteen to twenty years, while certain parrots can live up to eighty, and mice only last for about a year. Fish, of course, can sometimes die within an hour. The point is, you have to make sure you're willing to sign on that long.
Having considered some of these things, you may have changed your mind about what kind of pet you want. You may also still want the pet you initially wanted to get, but have narrowed it down to the type of breed and type you'd like to get. Just make sure you're really certain before proceeding.
You then have to decide where to get your pet. There are many places, for all kinds of pets. People offer all kinds of different pets independently, you can visit pet stores, you can go to the local shelter or humane society for cats and dogs, or you may know breeders. In either case, you should interview different breeders thoroughly, and talk to different shelter or pet store employees.
Typically, no pet is going to fall in love with you right away. There are exceptions to this rule; my cocker spaniel Smeagol, who now lives with my parents (because he's in love with their puppy) was like my shadow the minute he came home from the shelter. If that's not the case with you and your pet, just get to know it first. Spend some time with your new pet before taking him or her home, handle the pet, interact, and simply get to know one another.
No matter where you get your pet, you need to check out its health first. See if it has any discharge coming from its nose or eyes, if it has stomach troubles, coughs or sneezes a lot, doesn't eat, and so on. If you question any aspect of your new pet's health, make sure to get your own veterinarian to examine the animal before finalizing your commitment.
Lastly, every type of pet needs different kinds of care. Your veterinarian and some independent research will show you what you need. Certainly, as soon as your new pet is officially yours, make sure you take him or her to the vet, so you can learn about things like the right nutrition, where and how it should be housed, proper care, and so on.
Pets are extremely rewarding. Whether it's a snake or a puppy, they have the capacity for enormous depths of love and affection. What kind of pet do you have or want?
Top Photo Credit: cowyeow
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