So, you finally gave in to those heartfelt pleas from your kids and are searching for a new addition to your family. Pets can be the perfect companion for both young and old, but be sure to consider every angle before choosing a cat, dog or other animal to join your family. Ask yourself the following five questions before making any final decisions on growing your family:
Do you live in a small apartment? Suburbia New Zealand is becoming home to more and more apartment style living and if so, a large dog or even an energetic puppy would be uncomfortable in a tiny space with no room to exercise frequently. Do your research before choosing a pet. Certain small breeds (like the parson russell terrier) are usually extremely active and need lots of room, while a large dog (like a greyhound) may be fine in an apartment home because they are often couch potatoes. A big house with a garden might be more conducive to dog-owners. Consider getting a cat or aquarium-based pet that wouldn't mind being contained in a smaller living space. Remember that while birds won't leap through a townhouse like a Great Dane, they're often loud, and certain species can disturb your neighbours.
If you work long hours, animals such as fish or reptiles that don't require constant attention might be a better fit for your family. Or if you and your family take trips and travel a lot, consider your options for pet sitters. Parents with very young children who require a lot of attention may not be able to also care for a rambunctious puppy or other energetic animal. If you employ a nanny, ask if she would mind incorporating feeding the cat or walking the dog into her daily responsibilities. Families with older children might want to think about what tasks their kids can take on to learn about responsibility and caring for animals -- taking the dog for walks, cleaning the cat litter, feeding the fish or setting up a hamster house are all great chores for bigger kids.
Caring for an animal can get expensive, so set a budget beforehand and choose your pet accordingly. You'll need to purchase toys for your pet to play with, water and food bowls and living space, such as an aquarium for fish, a cage for birds or a heat tank for reptiles. Certain animals require a specific diet, which can also increase your budget (parrots, for example, eat pellets, vegetables and nuts). Some pets may also need trainers, an added cost that can quickly add up.
You also might want to budget for pet insurance, which can sometimes be the difference between being able to keep a pet or having to give it up for adoption. Getting your pet insured could save your family from financial troubles down the road should your pet need health care.
Sometimes it is a good idea to consider taking on an older pet. When an animal is young, it will require extra attention (and money!). Slightly older dogs have already gone through their chewing stages; they may already be house trained and may have been raised with children and already love them. That's extra money you save by adding an already-trained animal to your house. On the flip side, older dogs can also incur added expenses, should they experience health problems. Larger breeds often develop arthritis and hip troubles as they age, and surgery and joint medications can be costly. It's important to weigh your options when considering the age of your pet and your budget.
From dogs, cats and fish to rabbits, snakes and newts to even something as exotic as a bearded dragon, the possibilities abound.Brough notes that there are many kinds of animals that can be welcomed into your home, but they are typically broken down into three types of pets: companion, working and show animals. Companions are those pets, like horses or dogs, which will stick with you through thick or thin. Working animals are chosen because of their special abilities, like guiding a blind person or herding sheep. And show animals often require a great deal of dedication and time, as they are being groomed for a specific purpose. Most families are looking for companion pets, unless they have a family member with a disability - or they have dreams of dog show glories!
Which pet you choose depends on many factors. If you have smaller children and don't have a ton of time to look after your new pet yourself, consider animals that are easiest to care for. If you're looking for a cat consider a child friendly breed. If you're looking for dogs, golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers would be a great addition to the family, and they are some of the most energetic and faithful companions kids can find.
Whatever kind of pet you choose, if you take the time to consider your family's needs, living situation and financial commitments, your new friend will be a part of the family in no time!