Buying a pet is one of the most exciting and heart-warming experiences anyone can have. However, as the saying goes, a pet is for life, not just for Christmas. Therefore, you have to remember that keeping a pet is a commitment that comes with sacrifices as well as rewards. This means that you need to make sure the pet you choose is the right choice for both your needs and theirs. But how do you know how to choose the right pet?
In this post, we will give you some tips on how to picking the pet type and pet personality to suit you, take you through some of the sacrifices you need to be aware of before choosing your pet, preparing for the unexpected, and how to find a reputable pet store. Check out our ‘pet store near me now’ tool below to find your nearest reputable pet shop.
- Top 7 Tips on How to Choose a Pet
- So, you’ve chosen a dog
- So you’ve chosen an exotic pet
Top 7 Tips on How to Choose a Pet
#1 Choose the type of pet you want
Okay, this tip is an obvious one, but it is also the most important. Before you go down to the local pet store, you need to look into the animal you want to keep as a pet. Do you want a pet that is low maintenance like a pet fish or do you want a pet you can engage with much more but one that will also require you to make adaptations to your life, like a dog or a cat? Or are you after a more middling level of commitment, like a bird, rabbit or rodent? However, rabbits and rodents are also harder to train and may bite and will still need to be handled daily if you want to avoid this!
You also need to consider the length of commitment each pet requires. Cats and dogs both have long lives for pets, but short lives compared humans so this is both a long commitment and a guaranteed sad life occurrence that you are going to need to be prepared for. Birds, rabbits, and rodents tend to live for just a few short years so will be less of a long-term commitment but you’ll be no less sad to see them go.
Once you’ve decided on the basics, you then need to move on to looking into the needs these pets are going to have. Even at the low maintenance end, you are going to be required to provide daily care and regularly clean up their habitat or ‘mess’ they make, to put it euphemistically.
#2 Prepare yourself for the costs of pet care
Whilst fish likely won’t have many additional costs associated with them, anything from a rodent upwards could do. As annoying as paying insurance is, it is a good idea to get this from day one as veterinary costs can spiral. You will also need to consider whether you want your pets neutered or spayed and look into the costs of vaccinations and check-ups if the pet you buy is young enough to need these.
Add in the costs of food, getting a license and regular grooming and it is easy to see that buying your pet is only the first expense of many you will have to take responsibility for. Check out the table below for a summary of ASPCA’s estimation of annual costs for some of the most popular pets and you’ll see the costs do add up.
|Pet Type||Average Annual Cost||Pet Type||Average Annual Cost|
|Guinea Pig||$374||Small Dog||$1,471|
|Small bird||$387||Medium Dog||$1,779|
#3 Pick a matching pet personality
This is much more important when it comes to the bigger pets and something that is easier to quickly pick up on. You can also do research on different breeds of cats and dogs to see whether their typical personality types are going to fit into your home and family. Some dogs might need to be taken out for runs and walks throughout the day, whilst others might be happier with a casual stroll just twice a day.
Whilst dogs require you every day and you should always give even small dogs at least two short walks a day to be fair to their mental wellbeing, cats can be much more independent and may be okay on their own for a couple of days. However, some cats might be more independent than others, how independent do you want your cat to be? It is not uncommon for cats to find themselves with two homes (or even more in the case of 6-Dinner Sid).
Check out our ‘pet shop near me that sells dogs’ tool above if you’ve decided a dog is what you need.
#4 Consider Rescue Animals
Unfortunately, many people don’t do their research before getting a pet and quickly realize they cannot cope either with the practical demands of the pet or the costs they had not anticipated. Even worse, some people take out their frustrations with life and abuse pets. These pets end up in rescue shelters and can include everything from rabbits to much more exotic pets.
Whilst it can be tempting to get a shiny new puppy, some people prefer not to have to train a dog and it’s also a great feeling to look after a rescue dog and give it the love it deserves and unfortunately has not received. Make sure to take the time to get to know the animal though first and be sure you are willing to commit, otherwise they will end up back in the rescue center even more confused.
#5 Ask specific questions about the individual pet
Whether you’re down the local pet store or at the animal rescue center, this is a vital step that you should take before buying a pet. It’s a good idea to find out about what sort of diet will be best for your chosen pet, what toys they might enjoy, what medical care they might need, and even basic things like how old they are. You may also want to ask how long they will live, what they are like with children and other animals, and how big they are likely to grow.
As you can see, there are a whole range of questions you will need to ask. Even if you have already done some research, you need to know more about the specific pet you are thinking of buying before diving right in there. If some of your questions cannot be answered by the seller, this could also be a bad sign. It is also a good sign if they ask some questions about you as this shows they care about the pet they are selling you more than just the transaction itself.
#6 Check the animal yourself
As much as it is helpful to ask questions, ultimately, the person you are asking is trying to sell you something so it is a good idea to use your own eyes to check the pet you are thinking of buying before handing over the cash. Make sure the pet seems alert in its enclosure, check how it responds to you and to your touch. How does it respond to other animals around it? Based on what you see, think about whether the personality suits your household.
It’s also worth looking up specific things to look out for regarding the particular pet you are after when it comes to health. Fish that have cloudy eyes and dull colors should be avoided and you should also steer clear of reptiles covered in scratch marks or signs that they have been bitten as it suggests they get into fights. For dogs and cats check for discharge from the eyes, or inactivity.
#7 Never buy a pet as a gift
This is a surprising one, but it is never recommended to buy a pet as a gift, particularly for a child. Giving a pet as a gift doesn’t send the right message that the pet is a lifelong commitment that is going to require sacrifices. This means the magnitude of the decision to get a pet is taken out of the minds of the receiver. This frequently means you’ll end up doing all the leg work and won’t have a leg to stand on.
Pets bought as gifts are frequently returned to stores or rescue shelters after holiday periods for this very reason.
So, you’ve chosen a dog
So, after thinking through all the tips above, you’ve decided that the animal that suits you the best is a dog – but do you go for a puppy or a rescue dog? If you think only a puppy will do then make sure you’re prepared. Puppies are crazy time-consuming. As cute as they are, you’ll need to take the time to train them from scratch. However, if you have the time, puppies are well worth it.
You’ll have to train them to know that they can’t go to the toilet in the corner of the living room, can’t bight those computer cables, and shouldn’t jump up at guests when they come through the door. They need feeding at least three or even four times a day, have to go outside straight after drinking, will wake you up in the middle of the night, and will need support in the middle of the day when most people are at work.
Check out our ‘pet shop near me that sells puppies’ tool above and go down to your local store before making any decisions to have a chat and look around at what different dogs are available.
So you’ve chosen an exotic pet
If you’ve decided nothing but an exotic pet will do, then you need to make sure you do your research very carefully. Asking which exotic pets are legal in the US is completely the wrong question to ask too, you will need to ask which exotic pets are legal in your state. If you live in Nevada then you’ll find some of the loosest laws in terms of restrictions on exotic pets, whereas if you live in Hawaii, you’re better off choosing a more classic pet.
However, if you cannot be swayed from the exotic pet decision, here are some general guidelines for the types of pets that are generally legal, and the types that aren’t. Falling in the generally legal category, you’ll find the majority of exotic birds, reptiles, fish, and ferret-like animals. On the generally illegal side, you’ll find most states ban big cats, primates, bats, wolves, large reptiles, and skunks from being kept as pets.
Unfortunately, even in states where it is legal to keep exotic pets, there are some concerns with this as these animals tend to suffer in captivity even with the best of intentions. Certain exotic pets are also far more dangerous, impossible to control, and can escape. It’s best to steer clear of pets that fall into this bracket and anything that clearly shouldn’t be living its life as your personal plaything.
Check out our ‘exotic pet shop near me’ tool above to find your nearest pet shop selling exotic pets that are legal in your state.
As you can see, buying a pet is not a decision that should be taken lightly. However, it is also one of the most rewarding things to train a pet and see them become a part of your family. It is also equally rewarding to give a happy home to a pet that has not had the best of lives up until this point.
Keeping exotic pets does come with challenges and ethical concerns, however, if you take appropriate care and time to research what their needs are and how they have ended up being sold as a pet, then you can overcome these challenges. Follow the tips above to make sure you make the right decision for you and you’ll soon have the cutest new member of your family.