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Choosing a Family Pet: A Homemaker's Guide

Updated on April 1, 2013
There is an astounding array of choices when finding a family pet.
There is an astounding array of choices when finding a family pet.

Cuddly, loveable, playful pets provide so many benefits to a family that it is easy to forget there can be issues and problems that can make owning a pet a troublesome affair. Before choosing a pet, there are many things to consider from who will care for the pet to whether any family members have pet allergies, from what size pet is best for the family to how will owning a pet affect the family budget. Here we will take a look at some of the general considerations you need to address as well as review some information regarding certain types of pets. Hopefully this article will both encourage you to bring a pet into your home and make you aware of some of the things you need to keep in mind when you do.

Choosing the Perfect Size Pet

One of the first things to consider is what size pet will work best with your family. If you own a ranch, you might consider a beautiful Arabian stallion, but if you live in a small two bedroom apartment, even a large dog is probably out of the question. You must be certain that your home can accommodate the animal that you bring into your family. Also, if a child will be the primary person responsible for the animal's care, it is best to start small and move on to larger pets after the child has learned more about what caring for a pet entails.

The size of the animal will also affect things such as the financial burden of owning the pet. The larger the animal, the more it will cost to feed your pet. A large dog such as a Malamute or Great Dane may easily consume five times as much food as a small dog such as a Chihuahua or a any breed of cat. Medical expenses also tend to be greater as the size of the pet increases, particularly if the animal needs surgery due to injuries or special treatments for any unexpected conditions.

Managing Your Budget

Unexpected expenses can be a strain on the household budget.
Unexpected expenses can be a strain on the household budget.

You owe it to your family as well as your new pet to be certain that your budget is sufficient to support the animal you choose. Be sure to research all potential pets and consider if you can afford to properly feed your new family member and provide it with proper housing and medical care. Keep in mind that there is always the possibility of unexpected expenses due to injuries or illnesses. It is imperative to be sure these expenses would be able to be covered should they arise. Even things like toys to entertain your pet must be including in budgeting plans.

Finding The Right Temperament

It is critical that pets fit in well with all family members.
It is critical that pets fit in well with all family members.

One of the most important aspects of choosing a family pet is finding an animal with the right temperament. Not only do different species have different personalities, but the various breeds within a species also have unique differences. A cat will fit into a family dynamic in a certain way while a dog fits in quite differently, but that does not mean a rottweiler and bloodhound will fit into a family in exactly the same way. Finding the animal that works best with your family is key to everyone's mutual happiness.

Other pets must welcome newcomers.
Other pets must welcome newcomers.

Allergy Tip

Another reason for having the entire family meet the animal before making a commitment is the potential for someone to be allergic to a particular animal. Allergies can make life miserable so it is important to be sure there are no problems before bringing and animal into the home.

When considering temperament, you must take the animal's well-being under consideration as well as the needs of family members. If the pet will receive a lot of attention, then you need an animal that desires a lot of contact with humans. If the pet will receive less attention, then this should be factored in as well. You will need to research potential pets to get a general idea of how they will interact with your family, but the real test will be how the animal reacts when it meets your family.

Because of this, it is a good idea to introduce the animal to the family before making a long term commitment. If the pet will be adopted from a shelter, make an outing of the family visiting the potential pet to see how it interacts with everyone. If the animal must be purchased from a pet store, visit the pet store as a family to pick out the pet. Obviously of the pet will be primarily one person's pet, that person's interactions are the most important, but it is still important that everyone can accept and be accepted by the animal.

If you have other pets already in your home, you will need to also consider those animals when choosing your new pet. While there may be some generalities about certain animals getting along well with other animals, you will really not know how any two creatures will respond to one another until they can spend some time together.

Matching Your Family's Activity Level

Dogs are among the most active choices for family pets.
Dogs are among the most active choices for family pets.

Another consideration closely related to temperament is finding a pet with the correct activity level. You will need to decide if the pet will spend its time being cuddled or running around a backyard. Be careful to think about the lifetime of the pet and whether or not the family's expected activity level will be compatible throughout the lifetime of the pet. If you are going to make an animal part of your family, you owe it to that new family member to be certain that they will always be welcome and well cared for in your home.


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