Picking A Pet

Whether you are a college student with the new found freedom to have your own pet, the parent of a child pleading for a furry addition to the family, or a veteran pet owner looking to add a different species to your family; choosing the right pet for your lifestyle requires thought and planning. Pets are a long-term commitment so impulse purchases or adoptions should be avoided.

To avoid getting into troublesome pet situations Dr. Bonnie Beaver, professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, recommends answering four important questions before choosing to get a pet:

1) Do you have the time to devote to a pet?

Pets require more than just food and water. “Evaluate your lifestyle and try to choose an animal that you know you will be able to care for,” said Dr. Beaver. If a dog or cat seems to be too much for you to handle there are other pet options. However most pets will still need to be fed daily; if you travel often and do not have someone else that can look after your animal you should probably not have a pet.”

2) Pets need food, grooming, toys, and veterinary care- can you fit that into your budget?

It is important to think about the monthly cost of your pet. Be realistic in your budgeting and make sure that you can handle the added expense. Dr. Beaver states, “Food is the largest expense for animals. Most people tend to think that the veterinary bill would be the most expensive part of owning a pet because the bill comes in one lump sum.” Something to keep in mind while choosing a pet is the general rule that the larger the pet the larger the expenses.

3) Is my living arrangement conducive to the type of pet I am thinking about?

People who are looking for a pet need to take into account multiple issues relating to their home life. Find out if there are restrictions to the type of pet you can have because of zoning laws in your area and if your lease will allow you to have a pet. Will you have a pet deposit, and if so does it fit in your budget? If you live in an apartment a big dog is probably not going to be the best pet choice. Likewise, a person who keeps an immaculate house may not do well with pets that shed often.

4) Do I have health concerns that rule out certain pets or place special requirements on having a pet?

Dr. Beaver advises, “People who have allergies or weak immune systems should be mindful of the effects certain animals can have on their health.” You should talk with your doctor and a veterinarian if you have questions about your health and what animals could have an effect on your condition.

If you can answer those questions with no red flags, you are probably ready for a pet. Choose a pet you like and can manage. The internet is a great resource to find information about different animals and specific breeds. Also, talking with a veterinarian before choosing a pet can help you to make the right decision for your lifestyle. Dr. Beaver reminds us that “All animals require attention and upkeep-they are not pet rocks. However, if you are ready for a pet the experience can be rewarding and fulfilling”.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Angela G. Clendenin
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