There are many reasons to welcome a pet into a household. Companionship, unconditional love and protection are some of the reasons people get pets. Parents also may want children to have pets so they develop a sense of caring and responsibility.
When shopping for a new pet, the right fit can make all the difference. Before bringing any animal into a household, it is important to ask a few pointed questions and conduct an honest assessment of various factors that can affect the animal’s well-being.
Assess budget first. Pets require different financial commitments. For example, a beta fish in a small tank will cost considerably less than a pet dog or a horse kept at a stable. Adults must consider what they can afford when it comes to pets, as each animal comes with a separate initial price tag and subsequent food and care costs.
Think about allergies. Dander, hair and feathers can trigger allergic reactions in children and adults, so certain pets may need to be avoided. Speak with a pediatrician or a veterinarian and ask for suggestions on which pets may work best.
Consider a child’s developmental stage. Children younger than age five or six may not be mature enough to view the pet as something other than a toy or plaything. Before committing to a pet, particularly one that will serve as a child’s companion, be honest about the child’s maturity level. Some pets may have easygoing temperaments, like family-friendly dog breeds, including beagles and retrievers. A parrot with a strong nipping instinct or a skittish cat may not be the best fit until children are older.
Look at family lifestyle. Families that go on frequent vacations or are involved in many after-work or extracurricular school activities may not have enough time to devote to pets that thrive on interaction. Rather, a pet that is comfortable in a habitat or cage or one that is mostly self-sufficient might be a better fit.
Research, research, research. Before making a commitment, families should conduct significant research on the pets they are considering. This way there will be fewer surprises. Look at information regarding pet/breed temperament, genetic illness predisposition, exercise requirements, veterinary checkup schedules, and immunizations, among other factors.
These recommendations can help families find pets that will thrive in their homes.