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Guide To Responsible Pet Ownership

28 13:29:21
From insects to alpacas, pets come in all shapes and sizes. Many families feel that they are not complete without some little (or large) critter to love. In fact, more than 60% of all American households have pets, and many of those have more than one. If you are considering buying or adopting a new pet, you need to make sure that you are already to take on the demands of a furry (or scaly) companion.

Choosing the Right Pet

When most people think of family pets they think of furry one like dogs, cats, and a variety of domestic rodents. While these are common pets, they are far from the only options out there. Fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and even insects can all be great pets for a loving family. Choosing the right pet starts with a close look at your current lifestyle.

One of the most important considerations to make is the amount of time you have free to devote to your pet. Dogs, for instance, need daily exercise and grooming. Are you going to be able to provide that? If you have a very busy lifestyle, choose a pet that requires less work to care for. There are many options that fit well into a busy life, including pet insects and reptiles. Some small rodents, like mice or guinea pigs, fit well into busy families.

Keep in mind that your child's pet will be your pet. Sure, your child will promise that he will walk, feed, and pick up after the dog, but these are ultimately your responsibility. If they do not get done, you will have to step in and do them for your child. Do not pick a pet that you are not willing to care for and assume that your child will.

You also want to consider the financial responsibility of owning a pet. Some pets require much more of a financial investment than others. A few crickets each week to feed a lizard will not cost much, but bag after bag of dog or cat food does add up. Before you choose a pet, find out all of the gear the pet will need, and decide if you can afford it. Also, make sure you consider the cost of vet bills. Failure to take an injured or sick pet to the vet is considered animal cruelty, no matter what your income situation may be.

Finally, consider any allergies in the home and extended family. Your immediate family may be fine owning a rabbit, but if grandma is allergic to the bunny's fur, you will be sentencing your children to never enjoying a visit from grandma. If someone you care about is allergic to a particular animal, choose something else.

Make a Lifetime Commitment

The animal shelters are full of animals whose families simply decided they did not want to be pet owners anymore. Before you adopt or buy an animal, make sure you realize that you are making a lifetime commitment to your new pet. Take into consideration the expected lifespan of the animal you are choosing.

This is not something to take lightly. Some animals, such as parrots, can live as long as 70 years. Take the time to research the lifespan of the pet you have chosen. Also, if the lifespan is relatively short, such as for some fish and rodent species, you will want to prepare any children in the family for the eventual demise of their beloved pet.

Protect from Unwanted Reproduction

If you purchase a pet, such as a dog or cat, that can be spayed or neutered, have it done. Unless you are planning to breed the animal to sell the babies, there is no reason to keep it intact. Unwanted reproduction will only put more animals in the shelters.

You can also protect yourself from unwanted reproduction in small rodents. Be sure you know the sex of the pet before you buy it. Separate males from females in order to avoid an eventual litter of new critters.

Prepare Your Home for Your New Pet

Once you have chosen the type of pet you want and have decided to make a lifetime commitment to that new family member, you need to prepare your home for its new addition. If the pet will be one that can roam through the house, make sure it is safe. Put away medications and cleaners in a place where the pet cannot access them. Find out if your houseplants are ones that are poisonous to animals, and put them out of reach if they are.

Provide a place for your pet to have as his own. If your pet is kept in a cage or tank, this is easy enough to do. Put a shelter of some sort in the habitat that the pet can go to when he wants some privacy. If your pet is going to have free reign in your house, give him a bed in a designated area where he will not be disturbed. Sometimes a crate works well. Every animal needs a place to go where other family members or pets will not intrude.

Where to Find Pets

The most obvious place to find pets available for sale is a pet store. If you are purchasing a small pet, such as a fish or hamster, this may be a good option. Larger pets, such as dogs, are often kept in poor conditions in a pet store, and they are also usually overpriced.

Adopting a pet that is in an animal shelter is always a good choice, if it works for you. Contact your local animal shelter to find out what types of animals they currently have available. Keep in mind that you may have a difficult time finding a young animal, like a kitten or puppy, because these are very popular and tend to get adopted quickly.

You can also find pets through animal classifieds, either online or through your local paper. This can be a great way to find an affordable animal or to purchase directly from a breeder. By shopping online animal classifieds, you will have a better chance of finding up to date information about available animals. This is also a great resource for those shopping for a more exotic pet that is not likely to be found in a pet store or animal shelter.