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Choosing The Right Pet For Your Family


A dog and two girlsPet owning is a significant decision, dogs may be expected to live, on average, up to 12 years and a cat up to 14 years. Often, depending on the breed, and how your pets are looked after, these life spans can be significantly increased.

Your Pet, Your Family

Discuss owning a pet with your family, for both dogs and cats it is important that everyone knows and agrees to accept what impacts a pet may have on your home; you may also want to check if you and your family members have any cat or dog allergies before proceeding further. Do your research diligently and ask about the characteristics of types and breeds of dogs and cats and avoid impulse and gift buying.

The Cost Of A Pet

Then there is the cost factor. According to the ASPCA, the first year costs of owning a dog can be between $1,314.00 and $1,843.00 depending on its size; subsequent years should be around 33 percent less. For a cat, the cost is around $1,035.00 for the first year and $670.00 thereafter.

When you are ready to choose, a younger animal will most likely adapt quicker into your family but may be initially more disruptive and destructive, while an older animal may be more docile but may come with its own issues. It is important that the source where you buy your dog or cat from is reputable, ask veterinarians, your local ASPCA or similar, and friends and neighbors. And, if you are choosing a pedigree animal, look up bona fide registered breeders. Look for healthy coats and be wary of animals that are listless, limp or have runny noses and coughs. If you are buying from a breeder, ask for references and try to see the parents of the animal and also ask to see the kennel facilities. At animal shelters, try and establish the cat animal's history and likes and dislikes if you can, which could be pointers as to how they will behave in your home and ways to bond your pet to you.

Young Dogs & Cats

When buying young pets, bear in mind

  • that more excitable, nippy puppies may be more dominant later in life
  • getting a puppy dog can be a challenge for the first time pet owner
  • a younger dog will grow closer with its owner over time
  • cats will not require as much time & attention as a dog
  • kittens, if awake, should have a bouncy step and be curious about everything, so watch them carefully!

Additional Pet Resources

For more information on taking care of family pets, check out our Pet How-To articles on our Pet Page.


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