Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Pick the Right Pet

By Linda Cole

We all have our reasons for why we picked a certain pet to share our home with. Adopting a pet is a tremendous responsibility, and it's essential to pick the right pet that fits your lifestyle. For some people (that's me) any pet fits in, but it's not the case for everyone. There are many things to consider before deciding on the right pet. If you're thinking about adding a pet to your family, here's a short quiz to contemplate.

1. How much space do you have?
a. I live in a small apartment with no yard.
b. A couple of acres and a modest to large house.
c. A nice little place with a decent backyard.

Space is important to consider, because not all dogs will make a good pet if they are cooped up in a small space. All dogs need exercise whether they are a high energy breed or not. If space is limited, consider which dog breed would be happy in a small space, or perhaps get a cat instead. Check for dog parks in your area, and plan on daily walks if you live in an small home and/or have a tiny yard.

2. What kind of lifestyle do you have?
a. I have a couple of young kids.
b. I live alone and love to curl up on the couch at night to read or watch TV.
c. Exploring the great outdoors is my passion.
d. I work long hours and often on the weekends.
e. I have an active night life.

Lifestyle needs to be considered because some dog breeds and young children aren't a good mix. Not all dogs enjoy being around little kids. Think about how much time you have to devote to a pet. Leaving a dog home alone for long periods of time can cause them to develop behavior issues, and cats need attention, too. Do you have time to train a dog? Do you like to entertain on a regular basis? Do you like to go out a lot? Do you like to be active on the weekends, or are you more of a homebody? 

3. What's your yearly income?
a. less than $20,000
b. $20,000 to $50,000
c. $50,000 or more

The cost of pet care is an important consideration. The average yearly cost of dog ownership is around $600 - $900, depending on the size and health of the dog. A cat will run you around $650 each year. All pets need a quality pet food, yearly vaccinations, flea medication, shelter, health care, toys, beds and grooming equipment. Dogs need to be licensed and have collars and leashes. Cats need a litter box, cat litter and carrier for trips to the vet. There is also spay/neutering costs, pet deposits if you rent, and miscellaneous expenses. In regards to the expense of pet food, CANIDAE is a very affordable brand that allows you to feed a premium-quality, natural diet for less than you might think. (See “Why a Quality Pet Food Matters,” and check out the cost-to-feed calculator on the CANIDAE website).

4. Do you or anyone in your family have any medical conditions or fear issues?
a. Allergies
b. Problems getting around
c. Fear of some breeds of dogs

If you or someone in your family has allergies, picking the right pet is essential. Some dog and cat breeds are better for allergy sufferers, but there is no pet that is completely hypoallergenic. If you have trouble getting around, you don't want a high energy dog.

5. Why do you want a pet?
a. I'm looking for a dog to protect my family and property.
b. Since I live alone, I'd like a pet to keep me company.
c. I would like a hiking or jogging partner.
d. I just like being around pets.

Think about why you want a pet. Small dogs are not accessories, and no pet should be adopted during an impulsive moment. Dogs can make great jogging, hiking and biking partners, but only if you pick the right breed that can keep up. Cats and dogs will snuggle next to you while you watch TV, if you pick the right one and take the time to bond with them. Dogs will protect your family and property, if you get the right one.

This quiz was meant to get you started in the right direction when considering what kind of pet would be right for you. You should take as long as you need and learn as much as you can before deciding on a pet. If you're willing to learn about your pet, love, bond, train, care for and protect them for their entire lifetime, the pet you pick is going to be the right one for you. For more information, read How to Choose a Dog That’s Right for You.

Treat a pet with respect and you will have their unconditional love for a lifetime, and that is what responsible pet ownership is all about!

Photo by Lara Eakins

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. Read the statement ----> about supporting the independent pet stores. I agree and 95% of the time, I will and do.

  2. I wish my now former neighbour had considered space and her long working hours before getting two large breed dogs that needed far more than a 16ft x 18ft townhouse yard. Have no idea why some people bother.

    As for costs, unless everything is significantly cheaper in the U.S. (and that might be the case), I would say these estimates are far too low. I can tell you that my two cats cost me about $200-250 per month on food and litter and toys and treats. Vet bills have been close to $10,000 in the past 3 years, for them both and my now-"angel" Annie.

    Had I known, going in to adoption almost 11 years ago, what it would all entail, I might have chickened out. So I'm glad I didn't know.

  3. Those are some mighty good points about having a pet. The expense is one of the biggest things to consider. So many pets get taken to a shelter because people can't afford them any more. I will say, even if you have room for an energetic dog like a Border collie, you have to be committed to giving them some exercise. But good info.

  4. I think that the WORLD has forgotten that "Small dogs are not accessories" and really shouldn't be carted around to every public place.

    This is a great quiz. Thanks. Off to tweet it!

  5. Very good quiz. I actually did a quiz like that once to see and it said I should own a ferret!!! lolol


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