How to pick the right pet for you
A question I am asked regularly is: “How do I know which pet should I get?”
I am always pleased that people are thinking about this decision rather than making an impulse purchase. Pets are a wonderful addition to home life, and give back greatly with their love and affection. But there are certainly things to consider before taking the plunge into animal ownership.
Firstly, animals are luxury items and come with a lot of associated costs after the initial purchase price. Even something as simple as a fish will have expenses to be considered. Make sure you have looked at exactly what your pet will cost you week by week, also factoring in any emergency care that may be required at short notice. Be sure your budget can allow for all the additional expenses you may incur.
Next, look at the amount of free time available to devote to your new pet. Are you a walker looking for a companion dog to stroll through the trails with, or a runner who likes a faster pace, daily exercise and needs a more athletic pup? How many hours a day are you home and free to attend to your pet? Can you leave work at lunchtime to let them out and have a run?
If it’s a companion you are looking for and you have less time to commit, or less energy for walks, a cat may be more suitable. Cats are very independent creatures who can be left for hours at a time without human interaction. (They often prefer it that way.) My own two cats barely move from their sleeping spot whilst I’m out and pay me little mind until it’s feeding time. But they do give a great deal back in companionship and I can’t imagine living without them.
Another thing to think about is the age of any children in the home. Studies have shown that living with animals as a young child may improve immunity to disease, but choosing the right pet for your child needs thought. My kids have two guinea pigs which they love dearly but, despite my protests, the daily task of clean out mostly falls to me.
Then there are the long-term implications. Dogs and cats can live for upwards of fifteen years, horses more like thirty and parrots fifty-five or more. You must make adequate provision for the entire life of the pet, however long that may be.
You should also consider the breed of animal most suitable to Bermuda’s warm and humid climate. Believe me, your vet and electricity bills can go up dramatically when trying to have a dog designed for cold climates live in our tropical temperatures. Be aware of the quality of life you want to give your pet and choose an animal that likes the heat.
Pet ownership is certainly a commitment of time, finance and love, and can be extremely rewarding. But careful planning and thought can maximise your enjoyment and provide your new family member with the life they deserve. Contact a vet for help finding the perfect pet for your family, you’ll be glad you did.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda