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Choosing a Pet

 

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Making the right choice when picking a small pet to share your apartment life with can be difficult. More than 10 million cats and dogs end up in shelters every year, some of which could have been avoided if their owners had made more careful consideration of the pet’s needs and their own needs before bringing the pet home.

Here are some issues you should carefully consider before bringing home your small animal pet.

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Are you really ready?

First, be sure you are ready for a pet. Take a hard look at your lifestyle. If you are used to being care free and spontaneous, you may not be ready for a pet, especially a dog who needs you home every night by 6:00 so you can walk it.

You may, however, be perfectly happy with a pet that needs less care, like a bird, for example.

Why do you want a pet?

What are you looking for in small house pet? Companionship? A watchdog? Something to love and care for? Make sure you are getting a pet for the right reason, and make sure the pet you’re getting is suitable for your needs. A cat really isn't going to suit your needs if what you really need is some extra protection and motivation to get out for a walk every day.

Getting a pet because it's popular or trendy is simply a bad idea that you will probably regret. Remember the Pot Bellied Pig craze?

What special needs do you have?

Give careful consideration to what special needs you will have. If you're planning on having children in a couple of years, don't get a dog that will become jealous or snappy with children. Some breeds will be fine if raised with children around but not if they ruled the roost first and a child came later. They will not be happy that the child is now getting all the attention. There are plenty of dog breeds that will accept a baby being introduced to the household.

Similarly, the elderly should seriously consider the ramifications of getting a large, rambunctious dog.

If you are planning on going back to school in a couple of years, realize that it may be better to pick a low maintenance pet.

Are you ready for a long term commitment?

Pets can live a long time. Cats and Dogs can live up to 20 years while large birds can live upwards of a 100 years. In this way, pets can be like raising children except that they never go to college or leave home.

Are you ready for the expense?

Even though they don’t go to college, pets cost money to keep. You can expect to spend $200 or more per year for routine care of healthy pets, while intensive care can really set you back. Pets must be vaccinated, and don't forget to consider spaying or neutering so you don't discover that your family is about to grown unintentionally.

Remember to factor in grooming, training, toys, supplies and boarding or pet sitting. And then there are the food and treats. All this can add up to thousands of dollars quickly.

Are allergies going to be a consideration?

Remember to think about allergies if someone in the household has them. Many a cat or dog had been taken to the pound because this issue was not considered before hand.

There are plenty of types of pets and breeds of cats and dogs which are appropriate for allergy sufferers, but it does reduce your choices considerably.

Will there be any other pets?

Do you plan on having one and only one pet, or are you considering adding other pets to the mix? This information can be important to consider before choosing the first pet. To make things slightly more complicated, some breeds will do fine with other animals when socialized with them from birth, while others may never really be able to adapt to life with other pets in the home. See dog breeds.

Research the pets that are available.

You may already know that you want a cat, or dog, or fish. That can make your job much easier. But it is a really good idea to take some time and talk with other pet owners to see what their first hand experience is with that pet.

It can also be helpful to read some books or talk with a veterinarian to learn more about the various breeds.

See dog breeds.

Which pet is best?

For apartment dwellers, the general advice is to stay with a small dog, cat, fish, bird or reptile. If your pet will have access to a yard, it is acceptable to consider a larger dog.

If you do decide you really want a dog, keep in mind that puppies require much more time and attention to train, housebreak, and socialize than many other pets. If you have a dynamic or irregular schedule and cannot easily be home on time every night, it may be better to stick with a pet that doesn't require as much time and attention.


Fish

Fish are great for owners with very busy, dynamic schedules. They are colorful, fascinating and relaxing to watch but do require regular feeding. The main disadvantage of fish is the time and expense involved in keeping the aquarium clean. And some people find the additional pump noise detracts from the quiet sense of home they love.

Birds

Birds require a surprising amount of time and affection to thrive. They are amazingly social animals that can develop strange behavioral problems if not given the stimulation, love and attention they need. In addition, they often have particular (and expensive) food and housing requirements.

Cats

Cats are usually solitary pets that almost take care of themselves. They are easy to care for, even for very busy professionals. They can be left alone for a day or two, but should have someone look in on them after that. Usually all they require is food, fresh water and a clean litter box.

They do however thrive with attention. And research has even been done to study the healing effects of their purring.

Small Dogs

The Small Dog breeds are great for stable apartment life especially if they can get a lot of love and attention. The temperament of the dogs varies greatly from breed to breed, so special attention is needed when choosing a dog. Some are better than others with children, other pets or the elderly, so be sure to take that into account as well.

Medium Sized Active Dogs

Medium Dogs are not advisable for apartment life, as they need a lot of physical activity. They really should not be considered unless you have the time and space needed for them to run and frolic. They can be a lot of fun for the active owner who wants a dog they can take on trips and hikes, but can require walks twice a day or more.

Giant Breeds

Giant Breeds should not even be considered unless you have experience with them and are prepared to care for them appropriately.

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