What do you need to know before buying a family pet?
Did you have a pet growing up? If so, it’s likely that you have some pretty wonderful memories.
There are many advantages to owning a pet as a family; but it’s also an important commitment. So here are some of the handy things to consider if you’re thinking of welcoming a new furry/feathered/scaly member to your family:
What Are The Advantages of Owning A Pet?
- Caring for an animal teaches responsibility.
- Children with pets may be healthier, with reduced risk of developing asthma.
- Animals boost self-esteem, and social skills.
- Pets bring the family together (particularly siblings.)
- Kids with (certain) pets, get outside more.
- Cuddling a pet reduces stress, and anxiety.
Pets are great listeners: They never judge, and are always pleased to see you. They help children with self-esteem and social skills; and can be invaluable for emerging readers, who might feel more comfortable reading aloud to an animal, rather than a human. But remember: Though the experience gives children a sense of responsibility, only adults can be truly responsible for a pet. Selecting the right pet is a serious decision that family members should make together.
A common mistake is buying, without fully understanding what you’re committing to. So before adopting or purchasing any pet; it’s vital to discuss expectations with all family members, taking a realistic look at your family's lifestyle to ensure that you only get pets that you have the time, budget, space and inclination to care for properly.
Ask these key questions:
- How much care will the pet require, and what role will each family member play in pet care? Who will feed, groom, bathe, clean its living space, and walk it?
- What kind of medical care will the pet need?
- How big will the pet grow, and do you have space to accommodate it properly?
- If you have others pets, will they get along?
- How much attention does it need, and who will care for the pet when you're away? e.g. If the house is empty during working hours; or if the family travels regularly.
- Does anyone in your family have a history of allergies or asthma? If so, discuss the suitability of owning a pet with your doctor; or choose a fluff-free hypoallergenic pet.
Animals that can make good family pets include: Cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, and fish; but be careful about labelling a certain animal or breed as unquestionably 'safe.' Many animals may scratch or bite if put in (what they feel is) a dangerous situation: Animals need to be properly trained, and care should be taken when learning to handle them, and small children should never be left unattended with animals.
Before choosing any kind of animal for your family, learn as much as you can about your pet-to-be:
- Read pet guides explaining the various personalities, tendencies, and backgrounds of specific breeds in detail.
- If buying a dog or cat; do your research about animal shelters, and breeders. Make sure you know about age, training, and that it hasn’t come from any ‘puppy farms’ or illegal sources.
- Ask neighbours and friends about their experiences with various kinds of pets; and once you narrow your search, try to find out as much as you can about that particular breed/animal.
Pet ownership has many benefits; and doing a little research before taking the plunge, will help make your new pet a welcome addition to the family.
So what will you go for?
Fish: can be the perfect introduction to pet ownership. They don’t require much interaction, require less commitment; and all you need is a suitable tank; and to ensure that your fish is fed the correct amount, and the tank is cleaned regularly
Dogs: Though research needs to be done about the best breed (in terms of size, temperament, and energy) for your family; the right dog can become a much-loved member of the family. They do however, require more care, and training.
Cats: have very different temperaments, so while some can love cuddles, others might be more aloof. Though cats don’t need to be walked; they do need to be fed, groomed, and have their litter box changed. Plus cats may need extra scratch posts and toys to keep them entertained.
Rabbits, Gerbils and Hamsters: If your family isn’t ready for a bigger animal, but a fish won’t cut it; a common choice is a hamster or gerbil. Though relatively low maintenance, their cages need to be cleaned regularly, and they should be handled (regularly) with care. Rabbits also need regular exercise.
Ant Farms: can be a good alternative to fish for the scientifically minded - They're like soldiers & dinosaurs, wrapped up into a compact, educational package!
What pets did you have when you were little, or what do you have now? We'd love to hear.
(Over the years my family had hamsters, a rabbit, fish, stick insects, bull frogs, ferrets, and a dog!)