Nothing is more exciting than bringing home a new pet, whether they are a tiny hamster or a lumbering Irish wolfhound. But, simply thinking about a new companion can overwhelm you with all sorts of emotions, and you may jump into a decision without taking the time to think through what you really want. Before welcoming a less-than-ideal pet into your family, carefully consider the following questions to ensure your new pal is a perfect fit. 

#1: What type of pet does my family want?

Are you looking for a standard cat or dog as a house pet, or would you prefer something more exotic, like a bearded dragon or corn snake? Perhaps your family has the space for a small herd of alpacas or Babydoll Southdown sheep. Wherever your interests lie, you can find the perfect match for your family’s lifestyle.

#2: How much space do I have for a pet?

A goldfish obviously requires much less space than a Great Dane, so a potential pet’s space requirement is an important consideration. Plus, your pet will need extra room outdoors for exercise and play to ensure they have plenty of room to be happy and healthy. If you rent your home, check with your landlord if they have restrictions on the type or size of pet allowed. 

#3: Who will take care of the pet?

Although your daughter may be begging for a pony, realistically consider who will be taking care of the pet. If you cannot dedicate the time a high-maintenance pet requires, or your children are not old enough to pitch in with pet-care chores, consider a pet with fewer needs. Pets require not only feeding and cleaning of their habitat, but also training, daily exercise, grooming, and more time-consuming tasks. Divvy up the tasks of caring for your chosen pet prior to bringing them home, to ensure every aspect is covered. 

#4: Will my current pet accept a new pet?

If you already have a pet or two at home, take into account their feelings about a new housemate. Some cats and dogs are meant to live in an only-pet household, while many exotic species are best separated from their own kind to prevent fighting. If you’re considering adopting a new cat or dog, you can likely foster them to see how your current pet acts with a new companion. Remember, a new pet usually needs time to settle in and become fully comfortable in their new surroundings and with their new housemates, so don’t become discouraged if your pets aren’t instant best friends. 

#5: What type of pet will fit my budget?

While all pets require food, shelter, and veterinary care, the cost of these items can vary greatly.  A simple goldfish bowl will be substantially less costly than a saltwater aquarium setup, while a Chihuahua eats less than a mastiff. Also, consider where you are looking for a new pet when factoring in your budget. Pets from rescues and shelters typically have lower adoption costs than those purchased from a breeder. 

#6: How much time can I devote to a pet?

Feeding, grooming, cleaning, exercising, and training a pet can demand a significant time investment each day. Some species need more care and upkeep than others, while certain breeds of a species can be more high-maintenance in terms of grooming and exercise. Age is also a consideration, since puppies and kittens need more hands-on time than an adult dog or cat. 

#7: What is the main purpose of the pet?

Most pets are chosen simply as a family companion, but people want pets for several other reasons. For example, you may want a pet who can hike with your family all weekend long, so an exotic or pocket pet would be a poor choice, but they would make a great pet for entertaining your children. Consider a pet’s personality and behavior to ensure they will be the right fit for your family.

Choosing the perfect pet for your family and lifestyle can be a challenge. If you have questions regarding breeds, activity level, or personality about a potential new pet, contact our Mill Creek Animal Hospital team. And, once you’ve welcomed your new pet into the family, schedule their first appointment with our family and let us do the same.