Is Pet Ownership Right for You?

by Jason Smith

Nowadays, pets are important family members. They teach children responsibility and teach us how to love unconditionally. They are more than friends; they are loyal companions. The bond between humans and pets is so strong that the loss of a pet is like that of losing a loved one. Because of the impact that pets have on us, I believe it is very important that a first time pet owner take the time to consider what you want in a pet before aimlessly choosing a pet that may not be the right fit for you.

Family and Pets

First, what do you have time for? Animals require time and attention, that’s for sure, but some require less human interaction than others. If you do not have the time to devote your attention to building the human-animal bond, it may be best to get fish, as they live fairly autonomously requiring very little attention from humans. The most time you will need to devote to your fish will be in cleaning and maintaining the tank. Other than that, fish are the perfect choice for people who do not have the time to devote to interacting with their pets.

If you have time to devote to building a relationship with your pet, there are many options available for would be pet owners. Guinea pigs make good companion animals, but come with a 5- to 8-year lifespan. Dogs are loyal companions, but they will require much more personal interaction than guinea pigs, and they are likely to live 10-15 years on average. Cats could live in excess of 20 years and are very autonomous, usually requiring very little attention from their human owners. Whatever you choose, keep in mind the lifespan of the animal because that will play a major factor in the amount of money you will invest in your animal.

Next, I would recommend you count the cost. It probably costs a little more to set up a fish tank, but in the long run, fish will probably cost less than dogs and cats in comparison. Dogs and cats require a larger investment on a number of levels: veterinary visits, surgery, food, shelter, toys, beds, grooming, boarding/pet sitting, and waste management. The American Pet Products Association estimates that in 2012, pet owners will spend over $53 billion in animal care. I would say that if you’re going to make this kind of an investment, it’s worth taking the time to do your homework to consider the cost.

If you know what kind of animal you want to get, I’d recommend doing some research on the breed. This way you will know what to expect, as certain breeds are predisposed to specific disorders. For example, black and tan dog breeds such as the German Shepherd are more likely to contract parvovirus compared with other breeds. Dogs within the Collie family are not able to take Heartgard and must instead use Interceptor for heartworm prevention. Large working breeds are at risk of joint problems and hip displaysia, dogs with skin folds are prone to skin infections, and floppy-eared dogs are prone to ear infections. Get to know your breeds and find out if there is anything you can do to prevent any of the ailments common to the breed from happening to your pet once you have decided on a breed.

These are just a few tips to help you get started in your search for a furry family member. For more information on how we can help to improve the quality of life for your family and pets, visit our website

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