Choosing a Pet
A pet can be a wonderful part of a child’s life: companion, loyal friend, someone who always understands and never criticises, a living creature who can teach the importance of responsibility and unselfishness. However, bringing a new pet into the family is a major change and the following points should be considered before you embark on such a big step.
Things you need to think about:
1. Does all the family want a pet? If someone objects, the pet will be a source of argument. It can be a good idea to sit everyone down first and discuss the pros and cons.
2. How old is your child/children? If s/he is under six, it can be difficult to explain the animal’s needs: for example, the need to sleep for long periods, to feed undisturbed etc.
3. Are you prepared to let the pet live in the house (confined to certain areas?) A pet that lives in a back garden is not being treated as a family pet: s/he will become lonely, bored, may take to barking (in the case of a dog) all the time and trying to escape. A live-in pet that gets enough outdoor exercise is a much happier animal.
4. Is your garden secure? Your pet will probably spend a lot of time there, especially in the summer. If s/he can escape, s/he may be injured or killed, or cause a serious accident. Losing a pet can be very traumatic, especially for a child.
5. Are you prepared to feed and exercise the pet? Children will promise anything to get the pet they want, but as a parent you know that enthusiasm doesn’t always last.
6. School, hobbies, friends, football may become more important. Care of the pet is always your responsibility as the adult.
7. Will the pet be alone all day? Children go to school, parents go to work. This can cause major problems. You might consider getting two dogs for example, so they can keep each other company during those long stretches of time when there is no-one there.
8. Have you considered the cost? Pets need food, vaccination (with annual booster shots), regular worming, veterinary care, neutering (strongly recommended for both male and female), a licence (renewable annually), kennelling when you are on holidays if no-one is available to look after them, plus other incidental items.
A pet needs:
– regular exercise
– regular worming
– veterinary care
– a secure environment
– a licence
Thinking about buying a Dog?
Buying or adopting a dog is very definitely a long term commitment. Are you in a position to provide all the food, shelter, attention and veterinary care this animal will need over his or her entire life? Before you jump to any answers, please consider the many aspects of pet ownership:
- Your Lifestyle – Think about your lifestyle for a moment. Are you away from home a great deal of the time? Do you work long hours or travel frequently? Children will promise anything to get the pet they want, but as a parent you know that enthusiasm doesn’t always last. School, hobbies, friends, football may become more important. Care of the pet is always your responsibility as the adult. A dog should be a companion, who will have ample time to spend with you. Like humans, dogs are social creatures who love to interact with people and other animals. If you will have very little time to spend with your dog, perhaps a goldfish would be a better pet to consider
Your Home – Is your home large enough to share with a dog? How will your neighbours feel about this new addition? Will anyone be disturbed if your dog barks a lot? Are there any restrictions on having a dog in your residency? Do you have ample areas around your home for your dog to exercise and relieve himself?
Your Finances – Buying a dog is only the first step; feeding and caring for your pet over its lifetime are where the real costs lie. Food, veterinary care, licenses, kennels, grooming and supplies can really add up.
Veterinary Care – A dog, like any member of a family, should receive quality medical care. When you first pick up your dog, you will be expected to have him immunised against several diseases, and perhaps be neutered as well. You will also need to revisit your vet at least once each year for regular follow-up care. Again, these needs can be time consuming and costly, especially if an illness ever occurs.
Messes – If you plan to keep your dog inside your home, you can count on a variety of challenges, such as: housebreaking accidents, muddy paws tracked across carpeting, pet odours, puppy teething damage on clothing and furnishings, knickknacks being broken, flea and tick infestations, shedding, scratching, etc, etc. How will you feel when these virtually inevitable events occur?
Size Matters – When it comes to dogs, size does make a difference. Most big dogs don’t belong in an apartment, or with people who can’t manage them physically. Of course, energy and temperament also enter into the picture, but think carefully about the adult size before you get the puppy. A dog’s size also affects the cost of maintaining him properly. A big dog’s food bill will be higher. If you need to board him, that will cost more. He’ll need a bigger crate, bigger bed and bigger toys – all more expensive than smaller ones. He’ll also need larger doses of heartworm and flea preventative and other medications. Be sure you can afford a big dog before you get one.
Activity Level -Your activity level dictates to a certain degree what type of dog will best suit you. If you’re an armchair athlete who wants a canine lap-warmer, you need a smallish dog that’s content with minimal exercise. If you jog and want a canine partner, you need to choose a dog with enough energy and size to keep up. If the dog has to sit home while you go off to meetings, sports events, lessons, and jobs, you certainly don’t need a high-energy, active breed. In fact, maybe you don’t need a dog at all.
Thinking about Buying a Cat?
Do you have any Other Pets? You will need to consider your other pets before you commit to getting a cat. If you have a dog, does he like small furry animals, especially cats? Dogs and cats can certainly live in harmony and even become loving friends, but not all dogs or cats appreciate contact with the other species. If you have birds or other small animals in your household, can you keep them safe from the natural predatory inclinations of a cat?
Responsibility: Beyond their households, cats are a frequent source of friction among neighbours. Responsibilities extend beyond our own family and pets to the communities in which we live.
The Cost of Owning a Cat: You will need to commit to spending at least several hundred euro a year if your cat is to live a full and healthy life. An indoor cat typically requires only routine veterinary care once a year, but advanced age, illness, or emergency care can add significant expenses for veterinary care, medications, or special diets. Normal annual veterinary care includes a general physical examination, shots and boosters as necessary, and tests for intestinal worms, heartworm, and infectious diseases prevalent to where you live. Consistent preventive care will save you money in the long run—it’s cheaper to prevent disease than to treat it.Of course, health care isn’t the only expense associated with cat ownership. Other routine costs include food and treats; litter, litter boxes, and scoops; toys; beds; climbing trees and scratching posts; and a crate for safe travel.
Get in the Know: You need to know if the breed you think is oh-so-gorgeous is talkative, a curtain climber extraordinaire, or shy around strangers. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of traits among the 40-some breeds of purebred and nonpurebred cats. Your public library and local book stores should have lots of books on cats, and several excellent magazines are devoted to cats. Your best protection is to be an informed consumer.