So, you’ve made the decision to adopt a pet – good for you! Now, it’s just a case of choosing the right pet to suit your lifestyle and circumstances – an important decision all of its own! All too often we see pets being neglected or given up for adoption because they are inconvenient or do not fit well into the owner’s life. Taking time to research your options, before making an adoption decision, is one of the most important things to do, and will set you up for a fulfilling relationship with your new pet.
The Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI) has compiled the below list of considerations to help you decide on what type of pet to bring into your home:
- Personal preference and history: To start with, it’s important to be clear on what type of pets interest you and which do not. Often this is influenced by one’s history – the pets they may have grown up with and the relationship that they had with those pets. Also consider your own preferences now and what sort of consequences of the pet you’re willing to live with – would you be happy to have a litter box in your house that needs to be cleaned regularly? Can you live with pet hair on your furniture? Are you sensitive to noise or will a certain level of barking be acceptable to you? Do your allergies allow you to live in harmony with the pet? These are all indicators that will not only lead you to a specific type of pet, but perhaps a certain breed too.
- Space: What is your living arrangement like, how much space does it allow and is it secure? Based on this you should pick a pet that can happily exist in the space available. If you are renting, be sure that your lease allows for you to keep pets.
- Time availability: do you have ample time at your disposal to focus on your pet? Regular play is very beneficial for both cats and dogs and training and regular walks a must for most dogs (especially those more active breeds and types). Limited availability may mean a more independent cat or fish is more suitable.
- Level of activity: are you able to incorporate more strenuous activity and exercise into your routine, which more active breeds of dog, for example, require? Or would a less active breed or cat be more suitable?
- Budget: pets do not come cheap. Aside from the adoption fee that most shelters charge there is the ongoing expense of health care and veterinary checkups, grooming, routine pest control, food, toys and pet insurance to consider. Feeding a registered pet food that meets your pet’s nutritional requirements is essential for longevity and good health. Find a brand that suits your budget, confirming they’re a member of the PFI to ensure you’re feeding the best that you can afford – a brand that has committed to producing safe, nutritious pet food.
- Family dynamic: It’s very important that the entire family is on board when deciding to get a pet, as they will no doubt need to help out with raising the pet from time to time. Whether or not you have or plan to have children may also influence the type of pet you decide to adopt. Also consider your future plans and desires to ensure that this is indeed the right time to be getting a pet.
- Knowledge and understanding: It’s a good idea to research the type of pet and breed that you’re considering. There’s a great deal of information available, which will aid you in understanding your future pet’s unique needs and make it easier to commit to their general life expectancy. The better equipped and prepared you are to meet these needs, the more relaxed and settled your pet is likely to be.
A pet is a lifetime commitment, as in, the pet’s lifetime, and is not a decision that should be taken lightly or made impulsively.