Choosing a New Pet for Your Family

Choosing a pet for yourself or your family is an important decision as you will have to live withChoosing a New Pet for Your Family that pet for the next 10 to 20 years. The first thing to consider is what type of pet to get. Cats are definitely easier to care for than dogs, but for some children, they aren’t as fun to play with.  Most dogs are great pets for children, if selected carefully.

Temperament Considerations for a New Pet

Temperament is the most important characteristic to consider prior to getting a pet. For either a dog or cat, consider the breed first. Many people assume that Golden Retrievers are great family dogs, and while they can be, they are not for every family. Take into consideration how active your family is. If you are out hiking on the weekends and your children are older and very active, a Retriever is a great choice. But if you have young children, and spend more time at home, you may choose a quiet breed, like a Collie. Breeds that are aggressive by nature will tend to be aggressive in a family situation as well. Cat breeds have temperament differences too. Some tend to be affectionate and quiet, while others are aloof, aggressive, or noisy.

Health Considerations for a New Pet

Another important factor to consider is the health of your chosen pet. Many purebred dogs and cats have diseases that are associated with the breed, such as cancer, heart disease, or kidney or liver disease. While some problems can be treated long term with medication, others may be fatal to your pet at an early age. It is important to ask the breeder about any health problems that their lines have had. If you have questions about your chosen breed and associated health problems, ask your veterinarian.

Where do You Get Your New Pet?

Once you have decided what pet you want, you have to decide where to get him or her.  Choosing a New Family PetLocal shelters and adoption agencies have plenty of pets in need of homes. If you have decided not to get a purebred, this is the way to go. But don’t forget, you won’t know the family history on your new dog, so ask plenty of questions when you are there, and spend lots of time with your potential new pet. If you elect to buy a purebred dog or cat, don’t forget to research breeders. Ask friends, or your vet, for recommendations. If you are looking for a calm Labrador, do not choose a breeder who specializes in hunting dogs. I cannot recommend buying a dog from the newspaper ads. Reputable breeders won’t be advertising there.

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Dr Jill Christofferson

Jill Christofferson, DVM is an experienced veterinary general practitioner. Her professional interests include ophthalmology, dentistry, and reproduction.

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