Advice for First-Time Pet Owners
According to a 2017-2018 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 68 percent of U.S. households — that’s about 85 million families — have pets. Over 244 million critters give comfort, make people smile, and provide unconditional love to their people.
How exciting that you’re preparing to join this world!
Picking the Right Pet
Think about the following considerations as you decide which pet will be the perfect addition to your family.
Your family’s lifestyle. Is your family constantly on the go and super active? You’ll want a pet that can keep up. Do you prefer to cuddle on the couch with a cup of tea, a good book, or your favorite Netflix show? You’ll probably welcome a critter with similar couch potato tendencies.
Kids. Age often determines the best type of pet. Younger children do well with animals that don’t require a lot of care or aren’t as hands-on, like a fish, rabbit, or guinea pig. Older children who can help with pet care might welcome a dog or cat.
Your home. A giant St. Bernard might not feel comfortable in a small, one-bedroom apartment. Greyhounds need zoom room. You’ll want a critter that fits your space.
Time commitment. Some pets require much more time than others. A puppy needs obedience training. Younger animals need more hands-on time than older animals.
Cost for care, upkeep, and supplies. Shaggy dogs (and even some cats) need regular grooming. Horses eat a lot of hay and grain. Cats love scratching posts. Certain reptiles are prone to illnesses that require frequent vet visits. After you’ve narrowed down the type of pet you’d like, research the average annual costs for their care.
Local laws. Check with your landlord, if you rent, to make sure you’re allowed to have pets. Some cities and townships restrict the type of dog breeds allowed. Others frown on less traditional pets like potbelly pigs or guinea fowl.
Health and safety risks. Reptiles, like turtles, can carry and spread salmonella, which is dangerous to young children and people with compromised immune systems. Certain dog breeds have reputations as nippers.
Should I get a cat? Dog? Fish? Guinea pig? Bird? Hamster? Rabbit? Reptile? The American Veterinary Medical Association offers sage advice and links to these and more exotic critters that make good pets.
Words of Wisdom
The amount of time spent planning and researching your pet adoption is time well spent. Before you bring the critter home, make sure you pet-proof (it’s kind of like toddler-proofing) your home. Get down on your hands and knees (encourage your kids to help) to see things from a pet’s eye view. Find and remove or hide wires and other easily chewed and swallowed items. Move poisonous plants out of reach.
Once you’ve brought your new pet home and introduced him to the family:
Friends with Benefits
Our four-footed friends because make us happy and feel good. They love us unconditionally. They’re our wingmen and provide hours of entertainment. So, good luck finding your perfect match!
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