Choosing a Family Pet

Having a family pet can be a great way to teach children about responsibility while giving them a companion that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Not every pet is right for every family, however. There are big differences in the amount of care and support that various animals need, and not every family is equipped to deal with a high-maintenance pet. Some issues for families to consider include health restrictions, how much home and yard space is available, and the amount of money it takes to raise a healthy pet. If you’re thinking about getting a new pet, consider these questions before walking into the pet store or visiting the local animal shelter.

Frequently Asked Questions ( 8 )   Add a Question

  1. How much access do I have to specialty care?
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    If your family wants something more exotic than a dog or cat, it might be a good idea to check with local vets to confirm that they take that particular breed of animal before inviting one into your home. There are vet offices that will not see reptiles or small critters such as guinea pigs. Finding care for exotic animals such as a monkey or scarlet macaw may be very problematic.
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  2. What restrictions are there on our home?
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    If you rent your home, check with your landlord about getting a pet before picking one out. Many rentals do not allow specific breeds or species, and getting caught with an animal from the “banned” list can result in an immediate eviction. If you own your home, consider the furnishings, layout, and type of fencing you have around the property.
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  3. What health restrictions do we have?
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    Ideally, avoid a pet that will cause issues with allergy sufferers. You may also want to consider the health of family members who visit often.
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  4. How much can we budget towards this pet?
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    Consider how much you can devote each month to the care and health of your new pet. If you have a small amount of money, avoid large animals that tend to eat more. You may also want to avoid so-called pure-breeds, since these animals tend to have a lot of health problems.
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  5. How much space do we have?
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    The size of the animal doesn’t always indicate how much space he or she will need. For example, small reptiles and fish need large and costly set-ups in order to be warm and comfortable. A large dog, however, might be fine with a bed in the corner of a bedroom.
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  6. How much care does the animal require?
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    While most children will agree to just about anything to get a pet, the truth is that adults are the ones who have to take an animal to the vet, groomers, and buy the food and toys. If your family is already overloaded, don’t choose a pet that is particularly labor intensive.
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  7. What does everyone want from the pet?
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    Sometimes everyone is looking for an animal that will be affectionate and play with them, while other families just ant a low maintenance that looks great in a fish tank. Be honest about what your family wants, and choose accordingly. Don’t bring home an active puppy if no one wants to take it on a walk.
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  8. How will the animal be trained?
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    Litter box or outdoor training takes a lot of effort, and many new pet owners compare it to having a newborn baby in the house. Consider who will be responsible for the pet during this time, and how it will get trained.
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