Woman and dog

PICKING A PET

01/17/14

There’s nothing like bringing home a new furry friend to change your outlook on life—pet owners get it. They pick us up when we’re down, help us relax when things get stressful, and make us laugh with all the goofy things they do. Even when they wreck the carpet or eat a favourite shoe, we love them just the same.

If you’re still thinking about getting a pet or helping a friend decide, there are lots of things you’ll want to think through first to be sure you’re ready. We’ve outlined some of the major considerations  for picking a pet below.

Why get a pet?

“From my perspective, having a pet helps us to live richer, fuller lives – emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually,” says Dr. Debbie Stoewen, our Care & Empathy Officer.  She also points out that pets not only have an impact on the people they live with, but on how we interact with others. “Pets connect people – of different ages, abilities, cultures, languages, socioeconomic status and denominations.” Who hasn’t been on a walk and had a stranger walk up with questions about your cute dog? “Pets don’t discriminate,” says Dr. Debbie. “In their presence, we tend to follow their lead and open up as well.”

A few other reasons include:

• Having a pet can help teach kids about the responsibility of caring for another living creature.

• Pets are good for your heart. Studies show that spending time with a pet can help reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.

• Pets can help seniors cope with loneliness.

• Having a dog that needs a daily walk can motivate you to stay active.

• Pets offer unconditional love and companionship.

Bringing a pet home

So, you’ve decided you’d like to take the plunge – congratulations! Dr. Chip Coombs, Chief Veterinary Officer at Pets Plus Us, offers some great tips about selecting the right pet in this video.

Here are just a few of Dr. Chip’s key points to consider:

1) Housing

Before you start looking for a pet, evaluate your space so that you can match up what you can provide with what your potential pet will need. What kind of room do you have to offer? A big, fenced yard or a small balcony? Do you live in a high-rise apartment or on a rural property? If you own a condo or rent, what are the rules about pets? Make sure you understand what is allowed and what isn’t.

2) Consider Costs

Of course you’ve considered the initial cost of the pet, but think about some of the other things a responsible pet owner needs, both at the start and throughout the pet’s life. Adding pet health insurance to your checklist can help you plan for unexpected illness or accidents.  Also keep in mind that the average costs associated with a puppy’s first year are $2,749 and $1,661 for a kitten. Learn more about the cost of care.

3) Lifestyle

Think about how you plan to spend time with your pet. Do you like hanging out at home with a purring tabby cat on your lap? Or is the idea of hiking through the woods with a big, active German Shepherd more your speed?

No one knows what the future will bring, but if you have big plans that will impact your living situation, take them into account when planning a four-legged addition to your family. Do you travel a lot? Are you thinking of having children? Are you in a house now, but planning to move into a condo when you retire? Do you live alone, or do you share your space with a roommate or family? All of these things are important to consider—especially in terms of the breed you choose.  Once you get a sense of the qualities that would be the best match for your lifestyle, you’ll have an easier time selecting a breed that’s most appropriate for your family.

Dr. Chip offers lots of other great advice that will help you decide what is the right kind of pet for you. Check out our video on selecting the right pet for you and your family now!