When thinking about what sort of pet to adopt, most folks consider the obvious: what specie, what size, what breed, what age. While all of those are significant factors, another important one to consider is lifespan. In other words, what’s the life expectancy of the animal you’ve chosen, and how many of those years are you willing to commit to? Remember pets are LIVE beings with feelings and not stuffed toys to be discarded when you get bored with them.

If you’re ready to make a commitment to choosing a best friend for you and your family here are some steps to consider.

  • Adopting the right pet can be a challenge. Think about what type of animals you like. Do you like small and easy-to-care for pets? Or do you like medium care pets? Or do you like large animals? When your thinking about size remember that kittens and puppies will grow. Make sure you know what their mature size is going to be.
  • The cost of a pet can play a factor in choosing the right pet. Consider both the initial cost to purchase the animal as well as on-going maintenance cost of feeding, veterinary care, etc.
  • If you’re thinking of getting exotic pets, check your municipal/county, provincial/state and federal laws on owning and importing the animal. If you’re importing an animal from outside the country, check with the airlines and/or Customs/Port Authority on the necessary paperwork and quarantine procedures for animals coming from the source country. These regulations can change between borders without notice at any given time depending on health regulations.
  • Look at what your housing allows. If you’re renting or living in an apartment or condo, does your building allow the type of pet that you want? Rules can vary widely. Many buildings allow smaller pets but not larger ones, some won’t allow certain animals regardless of size, some allow pets with a larger damage deposit, etc. Check with your landlord for the specific species, breed and size you’re thinking of getting. Get permission in writing; have your lease/contract updated if you think there could be a problem.
  • If you’re considering a dog or cat look into:  
    • Are you allowed dogs/cats where you are living? Do you have an enclosed yard, or are you prepared to walk a dog to provide sufficient exercise?
    • Can you pay for obedience training? Having an unruly animal can play havoc with your life. Even if you decide not to attend a formal obedience program, you should be prepared to doing some reading and apply necessary discipline for basic training.
    • How much attention can you devote? Dogs have to be walked every day and have to go outside to relieve themselves. Certain breeds of dogs develop behavior problems if left alone for extended periods of time.
    • Who will look after it when you go away for a while? Check for the availability of boarding kennels and pet sitters in your area, if you do not have friends or family who are willing to care for your pet when you are away.
    • Do you move around a lot? Cats and a lot of dogs may not respond well to frequent changes in their immediate habitat.
    • Are you getting an adult pet or a young pup/kitten? If it’s the latter, make sure the baby is old enough to be separated from the mother. Younger animals need a lot of care and affection. Keep in mind, that they require more nurturing and a lot of looking after and training. This means a major time commitment on your part.
    • Dogs and Cats can live up to an average of 15 years, depending on breed and some cats even older. Will you be up to that much commitment?
    • Can you afford yearly vet bills and unexpected vet bills? You may wish to consider Pet Insurance.

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