Have you and your family decided to bring home a new pet? In this post, our Denver vets share some important factors you should consider before bringing home different kinds of pets, including the benefits, care requirements, and challenges of each.
Bringing Home The Right Pet
Animals are one of the greatest joys in life. In many cases, our pets become another member of the family that we cherish deeply. While different types of pets each come with their own set of challenges and care requirements, they all share one aspect: they rely on you to survive. Therefore, you have to carefully consider your decision to make sure you have all the resources you need to properly care for your new animal companion.
Factors to Take Into Consideration
The first thing to consider when selecting a pet is if they will meet your lifestyle needs. For example, if you are usually away from home most of the day, a dog might not be the best choice because they require a lot of attention, walks, and bathroom breaks. Instead, you might opt for a cat that is more than capable of hanging out alone for 8-10 hours a day. Some other questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I have allergies? If being around pet fur makes you sneeze, a reptile might make a more suitable pet.
- What is a good match for my personality? If you're outgoing and extroverted a dog might be a great pet as they tend to be fairly outgoing themselves. If you're an introvert you might prefer the quieter companionship of a cat or rabbit.
- Can I handle the care requirements? Each type of pet has different needs and ways to accomplish their care. Dogs require a large time commitment but cats need to have their litter boxes changed, hamsters and guinea pigs need their cages cleaned regularly, and reptiles might require a diet that makes some people squeamish (like bugs and mice). Make sure you're committed to the care requirements of whatever pet you choose.
- Am I financially able to care for the pet I'm choosing? All pets come with a cost commitment, but some are more expensive than others. For example, a dog's vet bills are likely to cost more than a small goldfish tank and fish food.
Choosing a pet isn't as easy as checking off a few mental boxes. Maybe you originally wanted a dog, but a rabbit or a bird may actually be your animal soulmate. If you keep an open mind and do your research, you'll end up with the perfect pet for you and your family.
Getting a Dog
Adopting a dog starts with choosing a breed that will suit your home and lifestyle. Do some research about the breed's general temperament (but know that all animals have their own personalities). Some dogs are calm and content to sit at your feet all day while others can be bold and boisterous. Size should factor in as well. If you live in a small apartment a smaller dog is probably a better choice. Large dogs need ample room to run and exercise.
Care requirements: License registration, training, regular walks, providing the proper food, grooming, routine veterinary care
Getting a Cat
Cats can make great pets. They are often playful and affectionate - but remember, like dogs, they will each have their own distinct personality. Cats are fairly low-maintenance pets once they're fully grown. Cats, however, are known to scratch (and sometimes ruin) furniture, so you will have to be sure to keep their nails trimmed and provide scratching posts to help with this problem.
Care requirements: Changing the litter box, providing proper food and stimulation (toys, scratching posts), nail trims, regular vet care
Getting a Bird
If you're keen on having a pet bird, choose carefully-some are more suited to human companions than others. Budgies are a popular choice because they can be quite affectionate and enjoy handling while cockatiels can be trained to talk and even perform tricks. Keep your bird's cage clean with food and water bowls replenished daily. The cage should suit your birds' adult size-they need to be able to flap their wings without touching the sides of the cage.
Care requirements: Routine cage cleaning, noise, commitment to ownership (some birds can live up to 100 years old), regular veterinary care
Getting a Fish
While fish may not be cuddly pets, they are often beautiful to watch as they swim in their tank. They also don't require as much care as some other pets. Care requirements can vary depending on the species of fish, but the main factor to consider when getting a fish is that you will have to keep their tank clean. Some fish are predatory towards others so if you're considering getting multiple fish be sure to do your research and speak to the pet store for more information on which types of fish get along well.
Care requirements: Proper nutrition, tank cleaning
Getting a Rabbit
Rabbits can be quite affectionate and intelligent. They are also social creatures and thrive when they have a companion rabbit rather than being on their own (just be sure to get two males or two females to prevent a situation where you have more pet rabbits than you originally wanted). Proper care for rabbits includes access to a litter box, a food bowl and water bottle, and clean bedding. Bedding should be made from non-toxic materials such as recycled newspaper or aspen wood.
Care requirements: Regular cage cleaning (includes changing their bedding), companionship, proper nutrition, constant supervision when outside of the cage
Getting a Hamster or Guinea Pig
Hamsters and guinea pigs are small animals that are great for older children. They are usually happy to be handled if they have been socialized from a young age and enjoy being snuggled gently. Both animals require cages and bedding that have proper access to food and clean water. And like most pets, they also need toys and accessories-like wheels, chew toys, and tunnels to stimulate their minds. Guinea pigs require a larger, roomier cage than hamsters, and their cages should be cleaned daily. Other than the cleaning requirements, however, these are fairly low-maintenance pet options.
Care requirements: Proper nutrition, regular cage cleaning (includes clean bedding)
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.