How to Choose the Right Pet For You

Jaron Pak
Various pets including dogs, cats, birds, a ferret, a turtle, and a snail.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Are you thinking about getting a pet? Oftentimes, the most difficult part of the process isn’t deciding whether to get a pet, it’s the act of determining what type of pet you want to get in the first place. There are numerous factors to consider, from costs and time commitments to the space required.

Here are a few of the most popular pet options available, along with some of the questions you’re going to want to ask yourself before you plunk down that cash and walk out of the pet store with an animal in tow.

Types of Household Pets

You can always go further afield with your pet choice by getting something like a tarantula or a porcupine. However, if you’re looking for a pet companion that will come with predictable responsibilities and expectations, you’re going to want to opt for one of the tried-and-true pet options out there. These include:

  • Fish.
  • Dogs.
  • Birds.
  • Cats.
  • Reptiles.
  • Rodents.
  • Bunnies.

Identify the Type of Pet You Want

When it comes to figuring out which pet will be best for your particular scenario, you’re going to want to ask yourself a few questions. Each household has its own particular set of circumstances that can significantly impact the extent to which pets will thrive in it.

Here are a few of the most important questions to consider:

  • What is your motivation? Are you looking for a quick snuggle from a puppy? Every puppy eventually turns into a full-grown dog that has to be cared for over the years. Make sure your motivations are in line with the pet you decide to get.
  • Is this the right time? Just because you know you want a particular kind of pet doesn’t mean it’s the right time to dive into that adventure. Consider what you’re able to take on at the moment before you nip off more than you can chew.
  • How many pets do you want? Whether you’re starting out cold or adding to a growing pet menagerie, it’s important to consider how many pets you can sustain over the long term.
  • Do you have younger children? Certain kinds of animals can be better for families. Cockatiels are great family birds, for instance. Macaws, on the other hand, are not.
  • Do you have any allergies to consider? Remember to take into account any allergies that may factor into your decision.
  • What responsibilities can you take on right now? Some animals, such as dogs, will require exercise, while others, like fish, won’t be as time-intensive.

Ask yourself each question and then carefully consider your answers. They’ll help direct you as you set about deciding which pet is the right choice for you at this point in time.

Set a Budget

One final consideration that is so often overlooked is the cost factor. If you don’t take time to budget for your pet beforehand, you may find yourself surprised by some rather hefty expenses before long.

Right from the get-go, you’re going to want to consider the upfront cost of purchasing your pet. Pets can cost anywhere from pennies (think a goldfish from Walmart) to tens of thousands of dollars (like the luxuriously expensive Ashera cat).

Budget Is More Than the Initial Purchase

Once you’ve bought your animal, you’re not done yet. You’re still going to need to consider annual or semiannual expenses like vet bills, too.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that a dog, for instance, racks up $253 per year in veterinarian costs alone. Birds, on the other hand, cost a paltry $18.

Monthly Budget for Food, Supplies, Vet

On top of the initial and the annual costs, there are also monthly expenses to consider. Each pet will have its own list of things to purchase like bedding, food, toys, treats, and so on.

Take the time to consider the costs for the animal you’re considering. For instance, a dog will likely need a new bed once every few years while a gerbil will need a steady supply of new bedding every week. Dog food, on the other hand, will run up a sizeable bill on a monthly basis while gerbil food is likely to be a negligible expense.

Get to Know Your Potential Pet

Once you’ve decided on what kind of pet you’re going to get, it’s also important that you consider the individual pet you want to take home with you.

Whenever possible, try to take some time to interact with your potential new animal companion before purchasing them. If you have a family, have them come along as well and see how the animal interacts with each member of your household.

Each animal’s personality can be quite different, and it’s important to find a creature that is the right fit and temperament for your situation.

It’s also wise to point out that all wild animals should be kept out of your considerations. No matter how cute or exciting the thought may be, wild animals cannot easily adapt to a home environment. Bringing a wild animal into your home puts everyone involved at risk.

Wild animals will not know how to behave in a home setting and they may even fail to thrive when brought out of the wild. They can also have diseases that may affect both yourself and your other pets. It’s always the best choice to leave wild animals in the wild.

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