Choosing the right pet for your family
So, you’ve decided that you’re ready to introduce a companion animal to your home.
It’s an exciting time, but it’s important to research what type of animal is best suited to your lifestyle and home environment, and be prepared to care for them properly.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a new pet.
What type of home/environment can you provide?
The most common animals chosen as pets in Australia are cats and dogs. Other popular companion animals are rabbits, Guinea pigs, birds and fish.
It’s important to research the requirements of your chosen animal when it comes to their housing.
It’s always a good idea to speak to a vet to get the most accurate advice.
When considering a cat, remember that puss will need a safe, contained environment to live in.
This means indoor spaces with lots of vertical options for them to rest on and hide in, as well as a secure and contained outdoor area for them to enjoy fresh air and sunlight without the risks of roaming.
The type of environment a dog needs varies according to their age, size and breed.
Active breeds will need more space than less active dogs, but all dogs will need somewhere comfortable, with plenty of shelter at a suitable temperature to rest in when you’re not at home.
Small animals, like Guinea pigs and rabbits need to be housed in compatible pairs (or larger groups), as they’re very social.
They also need a secure hutch/enclosure to stay safe in overnight, and the opportunity to graze and exercise outside of their enclosure as well, depending on its size.
It’s always a good idea to speak to a vet …
How much time do you have to spend with them?
Dogs are wonderful companions, and they can form close bonds with their human family. All dogs need plenty of time with you, for playing, daily exercise, and also just hanging out.
Dogs are very intelligent, social animals and ideally should be able to spend more of their time with you than alone.
If you have a very busy lifestyle, it’s important to consider whether you truly have enough time to spend with your dog.
Cats are often assumed to be more ‘independent’ than dogs, but they also need plenty of care and attention.
Cats also need enrichment, especially if contained indoors.
You’ll need to factor in time to play, hang out and bond with your cat, as well as time to ensure their litter tray is cleaned every day.
If you decide to keep rabbits or Guinea pigs, you’ll need to make sure you have time to clean their hutch/enclosure, to provide them access to grazing and roaming (ideally under supervision so you can ensure they’re safe from predators), hang out with them and to gently handle them to get them used to you.
Are you prepared for the costs associated with taking care of your new friend?
All companion animals come at a cost – as well their adoption fee/purchase price, and the costs associated with providing their bedding, housing, toys and high quality feed, you’ll need to factor in veterinary costs too.
These include annual check-ups and vaccinations for dogs and cats, as well as any ad-hoc visits for illness or injury.
Your animal will need to be desexed and microchipped, which both involve a one-off fee.
Caring for an animal is a big responsibility, and unless you’re prepared to give the time, energy and money that’s required, it might be a good idea to wait before introducing a pet to your family.