Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility, and you need to pick one that's right for you and your lifestyle. In this blog, our Los Angeles County vets share some key facts you should know about raising different types of pets, including some key considerations and the pros and cons of each.
Bringing Home a New Pet
Out of all the joys in life, animals are probably one of the greatest, and often our cherished pets become valued members of the family that we love dearly. Each pet comes with its own set of care requirements and challenges, but they all have one trait in common: they depend on you to survive. Therefore, you have to carefully think about the pet you choose to adopt and make sure you are able to provide for each of their needs and requirements.
What You Need To Consider
First, you have to consider if the pet you want matches the requirements of your lifestyle. As an example, if you aren't home most of the day a dog probably won't be the best pet for you, because they need lots of attention, bathroom breaks, and walks. As an alternative, you might want to opt for an adorable kitty cat that is able to spend 8-10 hours a day alone. Several other questions you should ask yourself are:
- Do I have allergies? If being around pet fur makes you sneeze, a reptile might make a more suitable pet.
- What is a good match for my personality? If you're outgoing and extroverted a dog makes a great pet as they tend to be quite outgoing themselves. If you're an introvert you might prefer the quieter companionship of a cat or rabbit.
- Am I financially able to care for the pet I'm choosing? All pets come with a cost commitment, but some are more expensive than others. For example, a dog's vet bills are likely to run a higher bill than a small goldfish tank and fish food.
- Can I handle the care requirements? Each type of pet has different needs and ways to accomplish their care. Dogs require a large time commitment but cats need to have their litter boxes changed, hamsters and guinea pigs need their cages cleaned regularly, and reptiles might require a diet that makes some people squeamish (like bugs and mice). Make sure you're committed to the care requirements of whatever pet you choose.
When it comes to picking a pet, it isn't as easy as ticking off a couple of mental boxes. While you may think a dog is the best pet for you, a bird or rabbit could be your animal soulmate. By having an open mind and doing your research you will be able to bring home the perfect pet for your family.
Getting a Dog
The first step of adopting a dog is finding the breed that best matches your home and lifestyle. Carefully research the general temperant of the breed you are considering (keeping in mind each animal also has their own individual personality). Some dogs are calm and will be happy sitting at your feet all day while others may be boisterous and bold. You also need to factor in the size of the pup. If you live in a small apartment a smaller dog is probably a better choice. Large dogs need lots of space for running and exercising.
Care requirements to consider: Training, registering with a license, providing the proper food, taking them out on walks, veterinarian care, and grooming.
Getting a Cat
Cats can make great pets. They are often playful and affectionate - but remember, like dogs, they will each have their own distinct personality. Cats are fairly low-maintenance pets once they're fully grown. Cats, however, are known to scratch (and sometimes ruin) furniture, so you will need to keep their nails trimmed and provide scratching posts to help with this problem.
Care requirements to consider: Veterinarian care, nail care, providing proper food and stimulation (toys, scratching posts), and changing the litter box.
If You're Considering a Bird
If you're keen on having a pet bird, choose carefully-some are more suited to human companions than others. Budgies are a popular choice because they can be quite affectionate and enjoy handling while cockatiels can be trained to talk and even perform tricks. Keep your bird's cage clean with food and water bowls replenished daily. The cage should suit your birds' adult size-they need to be able to flap their wings without touching the sides of the cage.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning the cage, noise, commitment to ownership (some birds can live to be 100 years old), and veterinarian care.
Getting a Fish
Even though you aren't able to cuddle a fish, they are often very pretty to watch as they swim around their tank. They also don't have as many care requirements as many other pets, although they can vary depending on the species of fish. However, the main thing you need to take into consideration when getting a fish is that you have to make sure their tank stays clean. Some fish can also be predatory towards others, therefore if you want to get multiple fish you must do your research and ask the pet store for information on the types of fish that get along well together.
Care requirements to consider: Tank cleaning, proper nutrition.
Getting a Rabbit
Rabbits can be quite affectionate and intelligent. They are also social creatures and thrive when they have a companion rabbit rather than being on their own (just be sure to get two females or two males to avoid a situation where you have more pet rabbits than you'd like). Proper care for rabbits includes access to a litter box, a food bowl and water bottle, and clean bedding. Bedding should be made of non-toxic materials like recycled newspaper or aspen wood.
Care requirements to consider: Cleaning their cage regularly (including changing their bedding), companionship, proper nutrition, supervision at all times when they are outside of their cage.
Getting a Hamster or Guinea Pig
These small animals could be the perfect pet for older children. Hamsters and guinea pigs enjoy being handled and snuggled gently if they have been socialized from a young age. Both of these little critters require cages and bedding with proper access to clean water and food. As with the majority of pets, they also require toys and accessories such as wheels, chew toys, and tunnels to keep their minds stimulated. Guinea pigs require a larger, roomier cage than hamsters, and their cages should be cleaned daily. Other than the cleaning requirements, however, these are fairly low-maintenance pet options.
Care requirements to consider: Regular cage cleaning (including clean bedding), proper nutrition.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.