How to Choose a Pet For Your Family

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We've all heard the saying 'a dog is for life, not just for Christmas', but it really is true.

It's really important to think carefully before buying a pet. All too often someone chooses a pet on impulse because it looks cute, without much thought about the reality of looking after it.

Rather than visiting a pet shop, it's best to talk to friends who have pets, do research on the internet and visit an animal refuge centre.

Here are some questions to ask before choosing your pet:

What kind of space will your pet live in? Do you have a balcony, garden or yard? Is it fenced in? Will your pet have freedom to use the whole garden, or just a part of it? Do you have special plants that would need to be protected, say from a puppy digging up the flower bed?

Think about your neighbours. Are there any kinds of pets they might object to? Would they be willing to feed and exercise your pet if you go on holiday?

Does anyone in your family (or any frequent visitors to your home) suffer from allergies? Cat and dog hair in particular can cause an allergic reaction. However there are varieties of cats and dogs that shed less hair.

Who will look after your pet? How much free time do you have each day to look after it? Calculate the time required for feeding and exercise.

Do you already have any other pets? Will they get on with your new pet?

How long do you want a pet for? The average life of a dog or cat is 12-16 years or longer. Mice on the other hand only live for a couple of years.

Are you a night owl? Some pets spend most of the day asleep and are mostly active at night.

Are you away from home a lot during the day? Some pets need company not to mention frequent exercise, and will be lonely or even become ill if left alone for long periods of time.

Think about whether you can afford a pet. As well as food, you need to consider payments for injections, and routine check ups at the vet, as well as emergency treatment.

Pet Ideas

Cats are more independent than dogs and can be left alone for much of the day. The Ancient Egyptians used to keep cats as pets!

Guinea pigs do not require very much living space and are very economical to feed. However they only live for 5-6 years.

Rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils all make good pets and can even be trained to do tricks.

Fish are quiet and beautiful to look at, and there are many different species to choose from. They do need careful looking after, and regular cleaning of the tank, or they may develop diseases.

I like dogs best. They are intelligent, happy, loyal and obedient and love going for walks!