Find out if owning a new pet is right for you, your schedule and finances.
First Things First
You see the most adorable kitten in the pet store window — a tiny ball of fluff no bigger than your hand staring up at you with great big blue eyes asking for a home.
Or you're walking by the local shelter and see a sad-faced puppy getting some exercise in an outside run. But before going in to fall in love, consider the following.
Would you adopt a child on impulse? Chances are you would go home and discuss the matter with the rest of your family. You would look at your lifestyle, finances, living arrangements and other commitments.
It is important to consider these same issues when adopting a pet as well.
When it comes to adding a pet to the family, many people buy a pet on impulse, never thinking that the adorable ball of fluff or sad-faced puppy will need housetraining, grooming, veterinary care, daily food, water and attention.
This is one reason shelters are full of unwanted pets.
Pets are good for people. Studies have shown that pets can help lower blood pressure and reduce depression. However, if you adopt a pet that you aren't prepared to care for or one that doesn't suit your lifestyle, you may find that the pet you thought would relieve stress causes it instead.
A New Family Member
OK. You've decided to add a pet to your family, but the decisions are not over.
If you live in an apartment and work long hours, a fish, bird or cat may be your best choice. If you like to run daily, a dog with lots of energy may be the best pet for you. After deciphering the clues, ask some questions of your own.
Pet professionals and books can be a great source of information that you may not have considered like what dog breeds are good with children, or what health problems are common to certain breeds, or how age of the pet and age of your children affect each other.
Then, spend time with potential candidates.
Attend a local dog or cat show and talk with breeders, judges and other pet owners. Visit a breeder and interact with individual puppies or kittens from the litter. Surf the Internet for breed-specific groups to learn more. Most pet stores and shelters have a designated area for families to interact with pets before making their decision.
Pay attention to the animal's energy level, how it gets along with your children and its overall appearance and attitude.