3 Tips for Choosing Your First Pet
For a first-time pet owner, there’s a lot to consider before making a decision. Of course, your feelings of excitement may prompt impulsivity, but you should take the time to do your homework and understand exactly what a new pet will mean for your home, your family, and your life. Choosing your first pet takes a lot of consideration, and we have three tips to help you make the best decision for your situation.
- Consider the Space You Have in Your Life and Home for a Pet
The first concern is the biggest one. After all, a pet will share your life and your home, and you need to make sure that you have enough room in both. If you work long hours, or if your family is gone for the better part of the day at work, school, and extracurricular activities, you should opt for pets that don’t need a great deal of care, such as fish or reptiles. In fact, veterinarians and pet store owners surveyed by Real Simple agree that the least-demanding, low-maintenance pets include box turtles, leopard geckos, and beta fish. In reality, animals like hamsters, budgies, and guinea pigs need more companionship than most people think. Kittens will need a fair amount of attention, but as they grow older might prefer to be more solitary. Obviously, puppies and dogs need to go for walks, be let outside to relieve themselves and receive lots of love and attention from their owners. Before you commit to a dog, make sure you have the time to spend.
There are many other things to consider besides time; if you are short on space, you need to get a pet that literally will fit into your home. For example, a Great Dane won’t fit in a tiny apartment or cluttered home. If you do have an apartment, check with your landlord to determine which pets you are permitted to have and what sort of weight restrictions might be in place. Common apartment-friendly pets include cats, small-breed dogs such as pugs and Shih Tzus, reptiles, fish, birds, and more exotic pets like chinchillas and hedgehogs.
And then there’s money. In addition to purchase and adoption fees, any pet you choose will have to be fed, bathed, and taken to the vet at least occasionally. They’ll also require cages, bedding, and toys. Even if you don’t intend to spoil your pet, the costs of basic care can add up quickly.
While all these things may seem obvious to potential pet owners, there are also some “hidden” space, time, and money challenges to pet ownership you may not have considered. For example, cleaning up after a new pet can take longer than you may think. From removing pet hair from furniture and floors to eliminating the unpleasant odor a pet leaves behind from carpets, rugs, and the air in your home, you will need to budget extra time to keep your home spic and span. Speaking of budgeting, it helps for pet parents to have a little extra cash stocked away in the event your new best friend gets sick or injured. Alternatively, pet insurance policies can help cover everything from accidents to routine vet visits. Either way, having the funds to care for your pet is an important part of the commitment.
- Consider the Personality of Your Potential First Pet
Time and size requirements are not the only considerations to make when choosing your first pet, however. Some animals are high energy and thrive in environments with children who will play with them throughout the day or owners who will walk and play with them as much as possible. On the other hand, some animals naturally are nervous and skittish and require quiet homes with older children or no children at all. While some types of animals have characteristics that make them appealing or not so appealing to potential owners – such as cats being standoffish and small dogs barking more than larger dogs – these are stereotypes that may not apply to individual animals. The best course of action is to visit with the animal that you plan to rescue before you take the plunge. Or better yet, forgo using appearance to make your determination and take the AKC quiz to figure out the best breed of animal for your family.
- Consider Allergies Before Getting A Cat or Dog
If you or your children are allergic to cats or dogs, please do not get one. While you may want to rescue an animal, you will not be able to provide the love and attention it needs if you can’t be around them without coughing, sneezing, and having itchy, watery eyes. Fortunately, some people who are allergic to dogs do not experience symptoms when they are near breeds that have non-shedding coats that produce less dander. So-called hypoallergenic dogs include Bichon Frises, poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, schnauzers, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Goldendoodles, and Labradoodles. But, you should keep in mind that no dog is truly hypoallergenic, and you can experience allergy symptoms around any animal. If you intend to look for a breed that has a non-shedding coat and produces less dander start by looking in your region for breed-specific rescue organizations. Ultimately, however, it might be better to consider a pet that doesn’t have fur.
For anyone who is unsure about whether to bring a new animal into their home for any reason, fostering is a great option. Of course, people who decide to become foster dog parents also need to consider the necessary time and space commitments to welcome a needy animal into their lives. If you are thinking of fostering a dog, you need to decide if you can provide the safe, loving environment he will need with just the right amount of love and attention. You’ll also need room for patience and understanding in addition to compassion while providing a nurturing home for your foster dog.
Choosing your first pet is a fun and exciting time. But, it’s also the time to gather information and make sure that you have the room and time for a pet, and that your potential pet’s personality will be a good fit for your situation. Whether it’s a puppy for an active, growing family, an adult dog to provide senior companionship, a fish tank you can spend hours watching or a turtle you can have for years to come, choose wisely so that you can give your new family pet the life it deserves.
Author: Jessica Brody from the amazing blog Ourbestfriends.pet