Thinking Of Adopting A Pet? Everything You Should Know Before Heading To The Pet Store!
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 4, 2010 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
There’s isn’t much that brings out feelings of happy, fuzzy, warm love like a bundle of furry joy. Your new baby’s arrival is one of the joys of life, and an experience that will never be matched!
But choosing the right pet for the right reasons isn’t as simple as picking cat or dog. As a pet owner, you are responsible for another beings life – and hopefully, a long life! You need to know what kind of animal you’re best suited to care for.
But first: it’s important that you, dear human, know exactly why you want to take care of an animal, and what the best type of pet would be for you. Here’s how to figure it out!
10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Adopting A Pet
1. Why do you want to adopt a pet?
The number one thing to ask yourself is WHY? Is this pet to replace one lost or passed away? Are you looking for companionship? Is the pet for your family or child? These questions will help you to figure out what kind of animal you can look after.
2. Are you ready to commit for (the animal’s) life?
Your new furry family member will hopefully live up to 20 years of age. Chances are in that time you may move, create or grow a family, change jobs, etc. Can your pet handle the changes in your life, and be part of them?
3. Can you afford your pet?
Let’s be more specific: vet bills, food, grooming, and even daycare and obedience classes can all add up. If you’re wondering how much your pet can cost, check out the ASPCA’s Pet Ownership Costs chart – it will tell you per year what you may pay.
4. Are you ready to take care of us in sickness and in health?
We get sick, we need you. End of story. Pet trouble can range from allergies to animal cancer, so it’s important to make sure you can afford the cost and the time to take care of us.
5. Will you be able to spend quality time together?
Some pets are way more social than others (ie. puppies and kitties). Anxiety disorders and other issues are just as common in animals as in humans, and pets need affection and one-on-one time with you! We need you around, not out all day and night and away on trips. If your lifestyle doesn’t keep you close to home, then we probably shouldn’t be there, either.
6. Do you have the time and patience to train us?
It’s so sad when pet owners turn their animals over to a shelter or someone new, just because they think we’re “untrainable“. Chances are, it’s the owner and not the pet. We all need to know where to pee, eat, how to listen, and what to do and not do. If you don’t have the time or patience, then we won’t behave.
7. Are you ready to pet-proof?
Speaking of behavior, it’s way easier for us new pets to keep the house clean if your house is pet-proofed. Much like proofing a house when baby starts crawling around, the same goes for us. Beautiful decor, expensive furniture, and toxic plants probably aren’t suitable for us to be around. We don’t want to see you choose between your pet and your pad!
8. Is your home a pet-friendly place?
Speaking of your pad, can you have a creature live with you? If you rent, are you allowed to have pets? If you don’t have a yard, perhaps a dog is not a good idea. Learning what kind of environment your pet needs is key in choosing the right pet for you.
9. Is your family ready for a pet?
Pregnant with first child or kids still super little? Then you may want to wait until the children have grown enough to know how to treat an animal (check out this post, HERE). Some pets don’t gel well with children, so this is important to know as well.
10. What kind of pet is right for you?
All of the above will help you to determine if you’re really ready for a pet, and what kind. If you’re ready to find out what kind of pet is best for you, then read on!
Choosing The Right Pet
I’ve heard stories about people adopting their soul-pets, and stories about adoptions that weren’t a great fit. Once you answer the questions above, you’ll be in a much better place to be able to choose the best pet, breed, age etc. to fit your lifestyle. Here’s a run-down on some of the top pet picks, and why:
Ah, human’s best friend. We canine creatures loves you so much, it’s hard not to love us back. We are so into becoming part of your pack, that most of us convince ourselves that we’re actually one of you! We need you though, ALOT. We are extremely sensitive and needy, so forget about us if you’re not interested in having a child. Seriously, cuz that’s practically what we are.
On that note, little kids (ie. toddlers) don’t mix well with dogs (or kitties) since they tend not to be so gentle. And we can react (bless us), as we are, after all, animals. You don’t want our sharpness near your kid, for that reason.
For a complete guide on doggies, check out this post HERE.
Soft and cuddly, and they purr. Cats can sure be demanding, but they aren’t as needy as your pet pal described above.
Cats are primarily nocturnal, so if you don’t want to be woken up by a frisky feline you may not want a cat. They also tend to leave “love treats” lying around, like, on your pillow. Considered by them the highest of gifts, but also really high on your human gag factor. And they don’t play around with you as much. But still, they do really well with the family. The little darlings.
Well, they won’t rub up against you or kiss you good-morning-good-afternoon-good-night-you’re-just-good-good-good. And they’re low maintenance (almost). But fish can be educational, pretty to look at, and boy does the bubbling of their tanks give good-night white noise.
Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Mice and Rats
Excepting the mice, these pets can be sort of affectionate and
easy for kids to take care of. They do need daily exercise (IN their cages!) and must be secure in their cages. But they can make great first pets for kids!
Now, like cats they are also nocturnal, so if you don’t mind hearing them running in their wheels or eating and scratching, great. If you have a kitty already and now one of these guys, expect to have some sleepless nights until you figure out how to keep the cage out of site and reach of your cat. Actually, in my opinion don’t mix the two. Just saying.
Rabbits are surprisingly amazing pets. They can be litter trained, are affectionate, come when they are called, and can do tricks. But they do NOT make good pets for kids under 12. They can actually die from fear, and hate to be lifted off the ground.
That said, rabbits can live long and are great indoor pets.
A time machine isn’t available yet, but this site could be the next best thing. To help you find out which pet is right for you, RightPet has detailed descriptions, ratings, and recommendations of thousands of dogs, cats, birds and fish.
If you’re still having trouble figuring out what kind of pet to pick, you can just take a quiz: Take The Quiz. Or not.
How To Adopt A Pet
Finding your pet should take you some time, since you want to find one that you (and family) are compatible with. Once you know what type of pet you are looking for, you need to know where to find it!
Of course there’s always the pet store, but I like to advise pet owners to adopt a baby or adult animal from a shelter. Not only will you help a pet in need, often you will find one already trained, neutered/spayed, and healthy.
Pet shelters like the ones operated by the American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (ASPCA) can help you pick a pet, too. Often times you can walk in and spend time bonding with different animals, and return again to revisit if you’re just not sure. You can sign up to volunteer as a dogwalker, for example, and maybe fall in love on the job. Many pet shelters have animals hospitals attached, so that your pet will be known already to staff.
Of course you can always check community boards and classified ads for adoptions and litter announcements – even craigslist.org. But beware this sort of thing!
What Not To Pick
Now that you know what to pick and where to find your pet, it might be worth mentioning some “pets” that may not be suitable. All manner of exotic, strange, unique and dangerous pets can be obtained, but for a gazillion reasons I advise against them all. Here’s a short list!
So there you are, people. A little guide to help you discover if indeed a pet is in your immediate future, how to choose the best one, and where to go find it.
Remember people: choosing a pet is for life. It is a life-long commitment. Be there for us, and we will love you and enhance your life for as long as we can.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan