5 tips for choosing the right pet for you

Dog

Choosing a pet shouldn’t be an impulse decision. The average dog or cat will live for 12 to 15 years – some cats even make it to 20 – so pet ownership is a long-term commitment! Pets are as individual as you are, and different types will be more suited to your family, home and lifestyle. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right pet for you.

Your budget
The cost of adopting or buying your pet is just the start of the financial commitment you’re making. There will be plenty of ongoing costs throughout your pet’s life that you need to be prepared for.
Think about things like food, litter, flea and worming treatments, council registration fees, grooming, toys, bedding or shelter, collars, leashes and ID tags, vaccinations, set check ups and treatments for injuries, illnesses or other health conditions that might come up throughout your pet’s life.
Some pets will cost more to look after than others – for example larger dogs will need more food, and some breeds of dogs need regular professional grooming. Different breeds of pets may also be more prone to certain health conditions later in life. Consider protecting your friend with good pet insurance to help you cover some of these costs.

Your lifestyle
Caring for a pet can take up a lot of your time and energy. From feeding to exercise to playtime, you need to be able to make time for your pet every day.
If you work long hours, have a busy social life or travel a lot, think about how much pet care you can realistically fit in. Will your pet be happy to entertain itself while you’re at work? How many times a day will you need to walk it? Is there someone who can help when you’re away overnight or longer? Some pets are more energetic and need lots of space and outdoor time, while others will be more adaptable.

Your living space
The size of your home and garden will also impact what sort of pet you should choose. A few things to consider include:
How much outdoor space do you have?
If you don’t have a yard, can you commit to taking a dog outside every few hours?
Are you allowed to keep pets at your current residence? What will happen if you move?
Where will your pet go to the toilet?
Are there any safety hazards in your home you will need to remove?

Different breeds

We all have our favourite types of dogs and cats, and those cute little faces can be hard to resist – but don’t choose a breed based on looks alone. Different breeds have different needs and personalities, and the one that best suits your lifestyle might not be the one you originally had your heart set on.
When you visit the shelter or breeder, ask lots of questions about your potential future pet’s dietary and exercise needs, general temperament and any quirks that might be particular to their breed. Do your research and get all the information you need to make the best decision.

Could you consider adoption?
In shelters all around Australia, there are plenty of beautiful cats and dogs (including kittens and puppies) in need of new homes. By adopting a pet, you can give an animal a new start in a safe and loving home, which can be an incredibly rewarding experience. In many cases, you may even be saving their life.
All pets available for adoption in shelters have undergone health and temperament checks to ensure their suitability as pets. Kittens and puppies will all have been desexed and up to date with their first round of vaccinations – so all you need to do is bring them home prepared to love and care for them.

This article was originally published in be. Magazine. It has been republished as part of South Bank's free Medibank Feel Good Program.

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