Tips for choosing the perfect pet

They say you can’t pick your family, but there are some members of your household that you can choose. Pets bring with them the joys of companionship, as well as improvements in moods and general emotional health. Some pets are known to improve the immune systems and lower the cholesterol of their human parents, and some pets have been known to display early warning signs when their humans fall ill. When it comes to deciding on the perfect pet, there are several factors to consider. Whichever member of the animal kingdom you decide to make part of your family, you are choosing to take on a big responsibility. Consider these tips before you make the big decision, and don’t assume you’re only limited to dogs and cats.

Family friendly pets

The creator of the Peanuts cartoons Charles Schulz once said that happiness is a warm puppy, and we couldn’t agree more! If you’re looking for an animal that is likely to get along with people of all ages, there are numerous family friendly dog breeds to consider adopting, including border collies, golden retrievers and beagles. Active families will enjoy taking their four-legged fur babies out for regular runs; even on holiday with them!

If you do decide to bring a dog into your family, make it a group decision and decide on who is responsible for what ahead of the time. Responsibilities include feeding, walking, training, bathing, trips to the vet and paying the bills.

Living situation considerations

If you live in a standalone house with a garden and secure gate, owning a dog or cat is an easy option. Living in a complex or block of flats becomes a bit tricky if you aren’t aware of the rules of the property. Check with your complex manager or your building caretaker if you’re unsure of these rules. Whether you rent or own, there may be restrictions when it comes to what kind of pet or how many pets you are allowed to have, and not all properties are pet-friendly. Cats, for example, are curious and nimble creatures who like to climb through windows – not ideal if you live on the top floor of a block of flats. Large dogs need lots of room so if you have a small space, you might consider a smaller animal like a hamster or another adorable rodent. Hamsters appear shy at first, but they love human attention as long as you know how to handle them without hurting or scaring them.

Small mammals offer a great opportunity to teach children responsibility and patience. With plenty of supervision from parents when it comes to cleaning the cage and handling the hamster, these fur balls can be an affordable and relatively low-maintenance option when it comes to choosing a pet.

If you’re away a lot

Animals can and do experience separation anxiety. If you’re away for extended periods of time on a regular basis, dogs and cats aren’t always suitable companions. For socialized dogs, you could leave your pet with a friend or family member as long as they are up to the responsibility and their pets are happy to have a house guest for a few nights.

Fish are a great option only if you have someone reliable to look after your fishy friends when you aren’t at home. You could keep a few fish in a small tank or go big with a home aquarium, all depending on your budget and preference. Fish certainly don’t need cuddles or walks, so if your job keeps you out of the house but you’d like to arrive to some form of life when you are home, marine life is the way to go!

When you have allergies

If you or anyone in your house is allergic to the dander carried on cat fur and dog hair, mammals aren’t the only option when you’re searching for a pet. Reptiles are a great alternative, and some are known to be quite affectionate. Leopard geckos, iguanas and corn snakes don’t mind being physically handled and enjoy the attention of humans. While they won’t leave your couch looking furry, reptiles do require some maintenance when it comes to their habitats and feedings. If you have the budget to purchase the correct tank, lights and food, you could have a happy reptile for many years to come.

When you have other pets

In the same way you would consider human family members before bringing a new pet home, you should consider the pets you already have. It might be tempting to get a beautiful and bright bird, but if you have a boisterous cat who gets overly-excited at the sound of tweeting you may end up with a traumatized bird. This isn’t always the case, but those who own cats and birds need to take precautions to ensure the safety of both.

Before you bring a kitten home, consider how your dog reacts to cats and how well you are prepared to train them to live in harmony. The same applies to bringing more dogs home; if you adopt a dog who doesn’t like other animals, you’re going to cause more stress than happiness for all parties concerned. If you aren’t sure, take your dog out for a walk on a secure leash or to a friend’s house who also owns a dog and see how they react – a bit of occasional canine bickering is normal and dogs usually do eventually form bonds with the other pups in a household but be sure you’ve done all the research and requested a professional opinion before making a final decision.

When you do make the great decision to own a pet, keep in mind that this is a long-term commitment – some birds and reptiles are known to live for over half a century, so do all the research you can before bringing a pet home. Also try to adopt rather than buy – especially when it comes to cats and dogs, as animal shelters are full of friendly companions looking for a forever home.