Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family
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If you're thinking about getting a pet, there are several things that you'll want to take into consideration before choosing one. Even if the pet you want is a cat or dog, it is equally important to choose a breed that is more suited to your lifestyle. Here are a few tips to help you along in the decision making process.
- Time Constraints: If you (and your spouse or partner, if any) are gone from home a lot, you'll want to consider getting a pet that doesn't require a lot of maintenance: Regular feedings, exercising, and socializing are considered high maintenance that will require you or other family members to be dependable. Consider whether your pet will be able to accompany you when you go on vacation or an extended visit. Will your pet be welcomed? Can your pet be accommodated? If not, you'll need to consider the cost of a reliable pet sitter or boarding facility
- Where You Live: If you live in an apartment or a rental property, check with your landlord about paying an extra fee with your rent each month to cover any damages that may occur - carpet stains and gouged or scratched baseboards are two possibilities. Some landlords and rental management companies don't allow pets at all. Small living quarters will likely become unmanageable with a larger pet inside so you'll want to choose a pet that doesn't require a lot of room to move around. If you own your own home with a yard in the suburbs, any damages are your responsibility but there is much more room for a larger pet.
- Allergies: Your allergies or those of the people in the home with you may be adversely affected with the addition of a pet living indoors (unless it is a fish). It is possible to develop allergies after acquiring a pet so be proactive and consider what you would do if this was the case, especially if adding air purifiers doesn't resolve the issue. Once you become attached to a pet and they become part of the family, it is extremely difficult to give them up.
- Count the Cost: Bringing a pet such as a cat or dog into the family means routine vet care - vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and health checkups - as well as emergency vet care. You may want to consider adding pet insurance to your monthly budget. Some breeds require extra care. For example, the Shar Pei breed of dog often suffers from allergy-induced skin infections, chronic yeast infections of the ear, and a condition known as entropion in which the eyelashes curl inward on the eye and cause irritation that can lead to blindness if left untreated. Surgery to tack the eyelids back is the only remedy.
- Family Members: Before choosing a pet, consider the ages of your children and the age of the pet. Young children and young pets can be a diabolical drain on your energy since both require a lot of attention. Consider choosing an older pet that is house broken, docile, and is good with children. Younger pets in the teething stage have a tendency to bite and scratch when being playful but ultimately frighten your child. If your children are older, a pet may be a welcome responsibility or it may not. Be sure your kids are on board with getting a pet if it is to become their responsibility.
You're ultimately responsible for your pet's food, healthcare, living arrangements, and social life. Be sure you're prepared physically, emotionally, and financially and that other family members are willing to assume some of the responsibility. With everyone on the same page, you can welcome a new pet into your home and your lives without misgivings.
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