Did you know that approximately 65% of American households have a pet, according to the Humane Society, with 42% owning more than one pet? That’s a lot of animals! If you look at any of these statistics, it will show you that the majority of these animals are either dogs or cats; however, for many, their lifestyle simply cannot handle a dog or cat.
The great news is that you don’t have to go without owning a pet. While there can be ups and downs, having an animal is satisfying and often rewarding, as long as you pick the right one. Problems can often come from people making a hasty decision or just assuming that they have one or two options to pick from. So before you make your decision on which pet to get, let me help you consider a few things first.
This is possibly the most important factor to consider. Do you work a normal 9-5 office job, or do you work 2-3 jobs to keep food on the table? Depending on your stage in life, you may be working towards a college education or technical studies. As if work and education aren’t enough to bog you down, our lives are filled with extracurricular activities, family events, and life in general. Adding one more element to the equation may just be enough to make you explode. So slow down, take a deep breath, and honestly evaluate your time table.
If you have a decent amount of free time, you may be able to handle a dog. While each breed is different, dogs will need a certain amount of time and effort, as well as the ability to be let outside. Dogs can be loyal, loving companions, and have long been considered a part of the family.
If you find that you do not have time, try considering a different pet. Many will recommend a cat rather than a dog in this situation. Because of a cat’s independent nature (and it’s use of a litter box), a cat can be left alone for longer periods of time. While some may cringe at the thought of owning a cat, much like a dog’s personality, a cat’s personality will depend on the breed.
If you are looking for a playful and energetic friend, consider a Siamese or Abyssianian. Both are fun and enjoyable to own. On the other hand, a Maine Coon will be more calm and laid back.
If you find that you are still opposed to owning a cat, try considering a pet that lives in a cage or an aquarium. This will give you a wide array of personalities and requirements to pick from.
Ah, allergies…. The very mention of it makes me want to sneeze. As a result of modern science, we are now able to identify several different allergens, including dust, pollen, and nuts. However, that also means that we know that people are indeed allergic to certain animals.
For instance, my husband is allergic to cats. Meanwhile, I am somewhat allergic to guinea pigs. After owning three guinea pigs, it is safe to say that I have a mild skin and sinus allergy to them. If you are allergic to certain animals, you have two options: (1) avoid that type of animal or (2) deal with it.
Knowing that I am allergic to guinea pigs may prevent me from owning more in the future; however, I will keep the ones I have because it is not their fault and I also love them to bits.
But if you or a family member has pet allergies (especially if they are highly allergic) take this into strong consideration before making a pet purchase. There are several great options to consider that may be a more allergy-friendly pet.
A fish (particularly a Betta) can be a great choice. I love these guys and they are super fun to have. Unlike so many other species, a Betta is quick to greet you and will actually acknowledge your existence. Due to their lack of fur, a Betta is a great option for those suffering from severe allergies. In addition, Bettas in particular are low maintenance and extremely easy to care for, unlike their saltwater cousins. Do a little research and you should be well on your way to knowing just how to take care of your new fish.
If you want something a little more than a fish, try looking into reptiles or amphibians. While allergies can come in all shapes and sizes, common allergies pertain more to dust and dander. Turtles, frogs, and lizards are a few examples, and if you’re more daring, check out snakes and tarantulas. You never know, you might just like them!
I will say that if you buy a pet and you discover you are allergic, please keep with it! Unless it is a severe reaction, steps can be taken to decrease your allergies while allowing you to keep your new friend. This may involve using orchard grass rather than timothy hay, or brushing on a daily basis. Please don’t give away your pet because of an allergy!
You may have considered this long before you even read the heading. This may even be the most important point for you to consider. Personally, this doesn’t affect me quite the same as it does you. With only two people in the house, I don’t have much to worry about. Having children in the house brings in a whole new element to choosing a pet. Often times, it is because of children that a parent is even looking to buy a pet.
If you are looking for a child-friendly pet, you have quite a few options, but it will depend on what you’re looking for. If you want that classic family pet, get a dog who is good with all members of the family.
Rodents can make excellent pets with children in the home. I would have to recommend guinea pigs for this. Although you will need to be gentle and quiet around them (especially when you first bring them home), guinea pigs can bond really well to their owners. Another great “feature” of guinea pigs is that they are timid. While this can be frustrating at times, it also means that a guinea pig would rather run than fight.
The reason I do not recommend hamsters is that they have a tendency to bite, some more than others. And trust me, that doesn’t feel very good. Additionally, guinea pigs are just plain fun. The longer you have them, the more you will see their personalities as they communicate and hop around. With a little research and a little practice, guinea pigs make great pets for people of all ages and experience levels.
An important aspect to consider is where are you at in life? Are you attending college? Recently married? About to travel the globe for the next three months? Wherever you find yourself, you may or may not be able to choose certain pets.
Pets such as Bettas, hamsters, and rats are some great options for those who don’t know where they’ll be in a few years. While no one can predict their future, some stages of life are more tumultuous than others. Each of the above-mentioned pets generally only lives for 2-3 years. Although this can be sad, it does help you to not make a long-term commitment while your future is unsettled.
One of the animals that I see suggested more than any others are rats. Yes, rats. These intelligent little rodents are well-known for their not-so-glamorous past; however, people have recently discovered that rats are some of the most affectionate pets you can own. With proper training, you can even teach them tricks. All across the internet, rat owners rave about how much they enjoy keeping not just one or two rats, but even five or six. If you’ve never thought about rats, maybe you should.
Choosing a pet such as a parrot, may prove difficult. Parrots require a great deal of attention, and considering that many can live for 20-30+ years, you may bite off more than you can chew. If you suddenly find yourself working long hours and living in an apartment, neither your feathered friend nor your neighbors will be very happy.
Ever since I was a child, I have loved animals. I often found myself wishing that I could get this or that, but never getting my parents’ approval. And for good reason! Just as children are not always fully capable of caring for a pet, sometimes adults can’t either.
In order to properly care for most pets, you will have to pay for proper housing, vet trips, and food. And with each pet, comes their own specific needs. And this can really add up!
For a furry recommendation, you may want to consider gerbils. Gerbils are sweet little rodents who will not require much space; and unlike many other rodents, gerbils are awake throughout the day. Because of their small size, you will not spend near as much in supplies. Oh, and did I mention there won’t be any vet fees?
If you’re set on owning a dog, realize that the annual costs of upkeep will be partially determined by the breed. If you choose a St. Bernard over a Chihuahua, there will be a drastic increase in the amount of food required to feed your dog. Before making your final decision, be sure to consider every possible expense and decide whether that will fit into your current budget.
The last point to consider is your space. Do you live in a house or an apartment? Yard or no yard? Evaluate the space you have to work with and go from there.
Obviously you would not want to live in a 900 sq. ft. apartment with a Great Dane. Or maybe you would? Your living situation will say a lot about which pet is right for you. Some pets will not mind small spaces, while others need access to a large back yard.
If you have a tight space, you may want to stick with something that lives in a cage. The sky is the limit, so you will need to consider some of the previous points to help you determine which pet is right for you.
Fish are always a good option, and you really can’t go wrong here. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as watching some of your favorite aquatic friends gracefully swimming back and forth, up and down. Depending on the species, you may need to get a smaller or larger habitat, and perform more vigorous upkeep. A Betta is always a good option if you are a novice fish keeper or you simply don’t want a lot of hassle. Honestly, if you find yourself with limited time, money, and space, don’t hesitate to consider a Betta, or any fish for that matter!
So now that you’ve considered your options and figured out what you can and can’t handle, which pet is right for you? Whatever you decide on, I hope you enjoy your new friend. Pets are an enjoyment and I wouldn’t want to go through life without them.
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