Choosing the right pet can make all the difference in your pet owning experience. As a pet owner, what we all wish for are years of enjoyment, but many end up with frustations and disappointment. Things get difficult when a pet doesn't really fit the needs of the owner, or the owner the needs of the pet.
There are many sources for information on different breeds and species kept as pets, including books, breeders, and the internet. We've found a great book on "Child Proofing Your Dog" by Brian Kilcommons that includes a section on picking one pup from several choices that you might find helpful. Also, listed below are several questions that should be considered before the purchase of a pet. And don't forget to call or schedule a consultation with one of our veterinarians. We are always happy to share our experiences with different species and breeds to give you a well rounded idea of what to expect with the pet you are considering.
Some of the things you should consider when choosing a pet are:
Age of the owner/primary caretaker: Lets face it - parents are going to have to be responsible for any pet in the household, but certain pets should be avoided around small children, including large parrots (bites), large snakes (live prey), other reptiles (can carry salmonella), and aggressive types of dogs (obvious - it may love your child, but your child likely has friends). Goldfish and hampsters are often good starter pets for youngsters, but remember that they can be short-lived (hampsters only 2-3 years). As children get older, they may actually "get into" their chosen pet and get involved doing research, showing, or breeding. Some even become veterinarians!
Time available for care: All pets require time. It can be as little as monthly maintentance on a well set up freshwater aquarium. Saltwater tanks, however, can be more like a science project. All dogs require time and attention, but the larger breeds of dogs, especially those originally bred for herding, hunting, or protection, require exercise and training to keep them acceptable members of the family. Cats are often less time consuming as they tend to litter train and entertain themselves quite well. Small birds may not require much hands on time, but parrot species generally do best with attention so they don't scream to get it. Horses are generally the most time consuming as they require feeding, stall cleaning, regular foot care and deworming, not to mention training and riding time.
Expense: Pet fish can cost under a dollar, while rare, breeding or performance animals can cost thousands. Even so, the more important part of the equation is the ongoing upkeep and care of a pet for its lifetime. Proper food, housing, supplies, grooming, training and veterinary care can dwarf the original purchase price, so be sure to research your choices before entering into a situation that could leave you responsible for a pet who requires more financial commitment than you have to give. As a back-up, see our Pet Insurance page. Routine veterinary care is all about prevention. Most insurance plans give you the option to submit vaccine and neutering charges as well as helping with the expense of a major illness or injury.
In the end, researching the type of pet you are considering is an important step in making sure your choice is a correct one for your situation. Feel free to talk to our knowledgable staff about the pet you are considering. We would be glad to share our experiences with you, and look forward to meeting the newest member of your (and our) family!