Buying a pet is a big decision, and not one that you want to take lightly. This is especially true when you are looking for a family pet. Buying a pet for your kids can be a life-changing decision for you all, as long as you pick your pet carefully.
Below are 4 things to consider when deciding on your family pet.
The Division of Labour
Lots of children are very eager to have their own pets. Many of us can remember our own childhood and the burning desire that we felt to have an animal companion. However, while children may love the idea of having a pet and playing with it, they are usually a lot less enthusiastic about the actual work involved in looking after the pet.
If this is the first pet that your family will have owned, it is important that your kids understand that having a pet is a responsibility and that pet owners have a solemn duty to take care of their animals.
Obviously, some animals are much higher maintenance than others. If you buy a dog, then you are going to need to work out a schedule for walking it and feeding it every day. However, if you decide to start with something smaller like a goldfish, which doesn’t require so much effort. And then, of course, there are cats, who are more or less capable of looking after themselves1 – but you still need to make sure you feed and water them.
What you don’t want is to find yourself in a situation where you are now responsible for a pet, but simply don’t have enough hours in the day to actually look after it. Do your homework beforehand and make sure that you choose an animal that you will be able to look after properly.
The Environment They Will Be Living In
Some pets will spend most of their lives confined to an artificial habitat of some sort. For example, if you are thinking of getting a reptile, then you will also need a vivarium tank to keep it in. Similarly, a hamster or gerbil will have a special cage that it will spend most of its time in. For these pets, all you need to do to provide them with a suitable environment is buy the correct equipment.
Other pets, like cats and dogs, will need to roam around. This can complicate things depending on your living situation. If you live in a detached house with plenty of garden space for a pet to run around in, you don’t need to worry so much. However, if you live in a block of flats and don’t have access to a garden, then you will need to consider how you will provide your pet with the exercise that it needs.
Of course, lots of people successfully keep cats and dogs while living in blocks of flats, but if you are going to be in this situation, then you need to have a clear idea of how and where you will exercise your pet.
Your Available Budget
Money is always a key consideration when you are making a big family decision. The budget available to you will determine what kind of pets you can realistically keep in your home.
Remember that the costs of owning a pet go beyond the initial price that you pay for the animal. Naturally, you will also need to provide food for the animal and in some cases, you will also need to provide it with new bedding every now and then, like with a hamster, for example2.
These costs can be low, but they are also recurring. Over the course of a pet’s lifetime, these small costs can rapidly accumulate. It is therefore important that you sit down and carefully cost your pet plans.
One thing to consider when you are costing up your pet plans is whether you are going to take the plunge on insurance or not. Pet insurance will cover some or all of your pet’s medical bills should they need veterinary care. If you are thinking of buying a cat or dog, both of which can live for a decade or more3, buying pet insurance could save your family a lot of heartache down the line. You can buy pet insurance for cats and dogs through websites, where you can also find information that will help you weigh up the pros and cons of going with either maximum benefit or lifetime insurance.
It’s a Wonderful Experience
Provided you carefully consider your choice and ensure that you are emotionally and financially prepared for the demands of pet ownership, being a pet owner is a wonderful experience. Your children can learn some of the most valuable lessons of their lives through pet ownership. They will learn about the responsibility that comes with looking after another living creature, as well as learning about the species itself, and, ultimately, how to process the grief that comes with the death of a pet.
Owning a pet isn’t always easy, but it is an eye-opening experience. If you choose the right pet, then before long, it will be another member of the family – you won’t be able to imagine life without them.