Pets come in all shapes, sizes, and species, but no matter what they look like, adopting a new pet is a remarkable experience. The many choices can overwhelm you. The decision to add a pet to your family—and which type of pet to choose—takes careful consideration, and our Driftwood Animal Hospital team is here to help you through the process. Before adopting a pet, reflect on your family’s preferences and lifestyle.

Can you make a lifetime commitment to a pet?

Adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment, and you must be able to care for a pet throughout their life. While pocket pets generally have short life spans, cats and dogs can live for 10 to 20 years, and some exotic pets, such as parrots, can live for longer than 50 years. So, before you bring home a new pet, think about your future, and consider how a pet fits in. Your answers to the following questions can impact the kind of pet that will best fit into your family’s plans:

  • Will your family be relocating? 
  • Are you planning on expanding your family? 
  • How often do you travel? 

Can you afford the cost of owning a pet?

A pet’s care comes with a price tag. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the first year of a pet’s care can cost more than $1,000, which includes food, supplies (e.g., bowls, litter box and litter, bedding), toys, and essential routine veterinary care. Before bringing home a pet, research average costs for your prospective pet’s diet, grooming, housing, toys, and veterinary care to ensure you can afford their care. 

Which type of pet best fits your lifestyle?

By choosing a pet that fits with your lifestyle, you help set up everyone for success. To determine the type of pet that is best suited for your family and vice versa, consider the following factors:

  • Time — Do you have the time a pet requires for their daily care, attention, exercise, and training? If you work outside the home, who will care for your pet while you are at your job?
  • Experience — Have you had a pet before, or will this be your first one? Will you be comfortable caring for a pet with behavioral or medical issues? Do you have a support system that can offer resources and advice as you navigate pet ownership?
  • Resources — Do you have the financial resources for a pet’s supplies, veterinary care, food, and ongoing costs (e.g., vaccinations, flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products, grooming)? Are you prepared for medical emergency costs?
  • Home size — Do you live on acreage or in an apartment? What pet would be comfortable in your space?
  • Lifestyle — Are you highly active or more of a homebody? What pet personality would match your energy? Families that enjoy hikes, jogging, or outdoor activities might enjoy an active dog breed. In contrast, a more sedentary family might do better with an older, more low-maintenance pet who requires less daily exercise.

Does anyone in your family have pet allergies?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), 15% to 30% of all Americans have allergies to pets, but allergies to cats are about twice as common as allergies to dogs. While many people believe they are allergic to pet fur, dander, a protein in a pet’s skin and bodily fluids, actually causes the reaction. All animals with fur or feathers have dander, so if pet allergies are a concern, you can either bring home a hairless pet, such as a reptile or fish, or a cat or dog breed that generally produces less dander. While no cat or dog type is fully hypoallergenic, some breeds may aggravate a person’s allergies less. Of course, each person with allergies reacts differently to various animals, so ensure you spend plenty of time with a potential new pet to see if they trigger a reaction. 

Do your children have experience with pets?

When selecting a pet, consider your family’s current and future age dynamics. Young children can be unintentionally rough, and not every pet tolerates that kind of play. On the other hand, older children might take on responsibilities such as feeding or walking. If this will be your child’s first experience with pet ownership, teach them how to interact safely with animals before bringing home your new pet. 

Do you have a pet support system?

Other pet owners and veterinary professionals can provide a real-life perspective on pet ownership’s joys and challenges. Whether you are trying to understand your pet’s grooming needs, behavior quirks, or health issues, current owners of the pet type you are considering can be invaluable resources to determine whether a particular pet type is right for your family. Based on their years of experience, veterinarians, pet trainers, and animal behaviorists can also offer insights to guide you toward a choice that’s mutually beneficial for your family and your new pet.

If you have questions about the pet type that would be best for your family, contact our Driftwood Animal Hospital team, so we can help you decide which pet would best fit your family’s lifestyle.