Pets tug at our heartstrings, and we often make important decisions about pets based on our emotions. However, when you decide to add a pet to your family, don’t be swayed by a sad pair of puppy eyes or an adorable kitten’s antics. Instead, help ensure you choose the perfect pet with our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team’s guidelines. Set up a family meeting and ask every family member to answer the following questions to ensure you are all on the same page.

Question: How much time do I have for a pet?

Consider: All pets deserve plenty of love and attention, but some pets require more upkeep, training, and care. A betta fish, for example, has fewer needs than a German shepherd puppy for socialization, habitat maintenance, exercise, and training. 

Question: How much room do I have for a pet?

Consider: Small pets do not always fit well in small spaces, while some larger pets can fit happily inside tiny studio apartments. Many people do not realize how much space exotic pets, like birds, rodents, small mammals, and reptiles, often require. They may be small, but some exotic pets need large habitats, which may not be practical in already cramped living quarters. Consider not only your potential pet’s size but also the amount of room they will need for a comfortable, appropriately sized habitat.

Question: Do any regulations prohibit a certain type of pet?

Consider: Check your local laws or housing arrangements for pet restrictions, such as pet type or breed, or weight limits. If your daughter has been begging for a pony practically since birth, ensure your homeowner’s association allows horses.

Question: What size budget can I allocate to a pet?

Consider: Your pet’s care costs must be factored into your budget, as pet-care costs—especially unexpected ones—can add up in a hurry. Divide costs into one-time, “set-up” fees and ongoing expenses, including:

  • Adoption or purchase fees
  • Habitat (e.g., aquarium, cage, kennel)
  • Bedding
  • Enrichment supplies
  • Food and treats
  • Toys
  • Leash, collar, harness, and ID tags
  • Grooming
  • Training classes
  • Doggy daycare, boarding, or pet-sitting services
  • Spay or neuter surgery
  • Parasite prevention
  • Wellness care
  • Emergency care

Question: Will my current pet accept a new pet?

Consider: Some pets prefer to be the family’s only child, while others love a house full of two- and four-legged playmates. Determine whether your pet will accept another animal in their territory, and then figure out the species that would be the best match. For example, when watching nature documentaries, does your cat focus intently on small rodents, birds, or other potential prey, leaping at the TV to make a kill? If so, another cat may make a better companion than a hamster or parakeet. Or, does your Chihuahua bark and growl when they see a larger dog? Then, stick to a similar-sized pet.

Question: What pet type will be best for my family?

Consider:  When considering a new addition, keep your current situation in mind, and also plan for the future. If you are currently single and living alone, is a roommate or spouse likely to move in?  Do you plan on having children? A future partner may be pet allergic. Carefully consider all the possibilities and choose a pet who will fit in with your changing family for their lifetime.

Question: What is the purpose of a new pet?

Consider: While most people choose pets for companionship, dogs, cats, horses, and many other species can fill more roles than simply being a pet. If you want a dog who will defend your home or livestock, that will impact the breed you should choose. If you need a rodent-deterrent, a cat will be a better choice than a dog. 

Question: What pet type will fit my lifestyle?

Consider: You may be in love with the looks and energy of a Belgian Malinois, but if you spend your free time binge-watching Netflix shows, a high-energy pet is not your best choice. Consider carefully your lifestyle, daily activities, and favorite hobbies, and ensure you choose a pet who matches your interests.

Nothing is more exciting than welcoming home a new family member. Our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team would love to share your excitement and joy, so give us a call as soon as your new pet has settled in to schedule their first meet-and-greet with our team.