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Choosing the Right Pet for your Family

Tags: Pets

Having a little companion to care for can add purpose, joy and fun to a family home. Before heading off to the nearest pet store, animal shelter or breeder, give the idea careful research and consideration to ensure it’s the right commitment for your family. The pet’s size, habits and needs, as well as your spacing realities and household structure, should all be taken into account. To help you make an informed decision on a new family member that will suit and enhance your lifestyle, we’ve created a guide to picking the right pet for you and your family.

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Things to Consider

Sit down with your family and answer the following questions. There may be some restrictions or a pet that best suits your home or lifestyle that becomes evident in the answers.

  • Where will your pet sleep and eat? How much space do you have to accommodate these activities?
  • Do you have an outdoor area? If so, what size of pet would be comfortable in that area? Is your outdoor area shared or private and/or fenced off?
  • What maintenance level of a pet are you comfortable with? Is it realistic for you to stick to an eating, playing or walking schedule?
  • How much help will you have? Are you taking on this responsibility alone? Will your roommate/partner/kids help?
  • What types of animals are allowed in your home? Check for regulations before committing to a pet. For example, most condo boards only allow one cat, dog or bird per unit.
  • What features will you need in your home to keep both you and your pet safe, healthy, and happy? Do you have a budget set for these items?
  • Are you prepared to take on the financial responsibility of pet ownership? Have you researched how much shots, vet bills or pet insurance will cost?
  • How will you care for your pet when you travel?
  • Do you have kids? Consider their ages and the energy level, size and disposition of the pet you’re considering.
  • How long will the pet be alone? Do you work long hours or have a long commute that could prevent you from giving the pet the attention it needs?

Choosing your pet

After taking these big questions into consideration it’s time to decide on the species or breed. Do some research to find something that fits your personality, lifestyle and your budget. Many aspiring pet owners forget about going the adoption route in their search, but it’s an excellent option that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when you consider you’ll be giving an animal the love and good home they may be missing.

Dogs

dog

One of the most popular pets, they’re energetic, entertaining and affectionate. Learn as much as you can about the breed you’re considering before you bring it home to ensure it’s the right fit for you and your home’s features. For example, Rough Collies are prone to anxiety around loud noises, so not the best choice if your child is an aspiring drummer. If you’re adopting a puppy, be ready to dedicate a significant amount of time to training, and budget for new accessories and vet bills. You may also need to get a dog walker or daycare for the first few months until the puppy can be left alone.

 

Cats

cat

Cats are more low maintenance and independent than dogs, so time commitments may be less, but they still require attention, play and depending on your breed, feeding multiple times a day. It’s also important to decide if you’re going to allow your cat to go explore outside on its own or not. Outdoor cats are more independent, get more exercise and often experience more vitality as a result, however they also require more immunization and are at risk for contracting foreign viruses. Indoor cats often require additional maintenance, as they shed and use the litter box exclusively indoors. Indoor or outdoor may be decided for you if you live in a condo, however it’s important to note that cats should be conditioned to go outside from infancy, even if it’s just on your balcony.

 

Birds

bird

Birds are smart, social and interactive animals, and different breeds require different levels of attention. You will need to allocate time each day to spend with them and keep them pacified with sounds when you’re not home. In addition to regular maintenance of the cage, you’ll need to give your bird space to spread its wings, whether that’s in a bigger cage or out in a controlled area. Also, consider noise when deciding on a bird, without adequate space and stimulation some breeds will chirp constantly, which your family and neighbours probably won’t be happy about.

 

Fish

fish

A fish is a great starter pet, particularly for small children and families who may not have grown up in a pet household. They’re quiet, compact, and require very little maintenance and attention. Feeding the fish daily is a great way to teach kids some responsibility and the importance of caring for pets that rely on their owners to survive. It’s also a great option for a single-person household, as care can easily be taken on by one person.

 

Rodents

rodent

Hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, rats and rabbits require a reasonable amount of care and are well suited to small spaces. Although hamsters prefer to be alone, other rodents often do well within their own gender. Rats are social and smart and can even be trained to do tricks. Be sure to be careful when letting rodents roam free as they love to find nooks and crannies to escape into. A small plastic exercise ball is the perfect way to let your pet explore your home and keep an eye on them, just be sure to block off any stairs or keep them on the ground floor. Rabbits can require a bit more care and maintenance; they require a strict diet and regular vet checkups and bigger rabbits will need to be trained to use a litter box. They’re actually great cuddlers and prefer human company to roaming solo.

 

Reptiles

reptile

Reptiles such as turtles, lizards and snakes are a great allergy-friendly option. Although they don’t require a lot of play time, they do require maintenance; their cages are often larger and harder to clean and they require specific temperatures to thrive. You also may be going to specialty stores for foods, as some reptiles require live insects in their diets.

 

Prepping your new home

There are a few adjustments you can make to your home that will make life with a pet easier.

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Outdoor Areas

Consider installing additional fencing to create an enclosed outdoor place for dogs or even rodents to explore that don’t risk ruining your lawn or garden.

Features & FINISHES

Pet-washing stations or built-in cabinets that can be turned into a litter-box area are great features to consider when picking your upgrades. If you have a pet that sheds or will be running around the house, your flooring, baseboards, stairs will need to be durable and easy to clean. Same goes with your furniture and accessory choices in the home if your pet will be up on the couch or could easily knock over lamps, frames or plants.

Neighbourhoods

Depending on the pet you choose, you may be relying on neighbourhood amenities to provide your pet the exercise it needs.  Proximity to parks and walkable streets are important, particularly with dogs and outdoor cats that may be exploring on their own. Consider your new or existing neighbourhood’s features in your decision-making process.