All Pets Veterinary Clinic

SELECTING A PET

While visiting shelter you will see a wide variety of animals. So, how
do you decide who is best for you? Here are some things that you should consider
before you choose your new pet.

Cat or dog? The first big question is what do you want, a cat or a dog? There
are obvious differences. Cats are generally more self sufficient than dogs. While this
does not mean that they donít need attention and care, it does generally imply that they
are less "labor intensive" than dogs. Cats donít need to be walked outside several times
a day. Cats can be left alone for longer periods of time than dogs. Do you work long
hours? Will your pet need to be left alone overnight on occasion? Then perhaps a cat
is a better choice. You should also consider how much room you have available for your
new pet.

Age. While young animals are cute and have a lot to offer, remember that they
are a considerable amount of work. Puppies will often need to be housebroken. They will
require a lot of attention and are not as "independent" as older dogs often are. Puppies
will likely get into things they are not supposed to like shoes and clothes. Are you
prepared for this? Will someone be able to put in the time required to turn an
inquisitive young puppy into a well mannered adult? Kittens are often quite frisky too!
Donít overlook the older dogs and cats. Many are housebroken and more mature. This
can be a great benefit for someone who does not have enough time for a young animal.

Breed. Pure bred and mixed breed animals both have many advantages and
disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage of pure bred animals is breed related diseases
or conditions. For example, many Shepherds will have problems with bad hips and many
Labs will have problems with allergies. While this does not guarantee that a pure bred
animal will have a specific problem or guarantee that a mixed breed animal will not have
a specific problem, it can decrease the chance of having a breed related problem if a
mixed breed is chosen. One must also consider the temperament associated with certain
breeds of dogs. Do you have small children or will small children come into contact
with your pet? Do you have a lot of visitors? If you do, then perhaps some of the more
aggressive breeds are not for you.

What kinds of pets do you already have? If you currently have pets at home, you
must consider them before you bring home an addition to your family. Does your current
pet get along with other animals? Are you prepared for any "turbulence" that bringing a
new pet into your home might cause? Remember that you have an obligation to your other
pets! If a new animal is going to cause a significant amount of stress or physical harm
to your current pet (or if your current pet is going to cause stress or harm to your new
pet) then perhaps you had better wait.

A special note for owners of exotic pets, like rodents, birds, or reptiles. Be sure
that your exotic pets are kept in dog/cat proof cages in areas of the house that your
new cat or dog will not have access to. A little planning and a lot of caution on your
part can avoid the situation where you come home to find a full cat and a few feathers
where there used to be your pet bird.

Health issues. PETS NEED PROPER CARE. When you adopt an animal you are taking
on a huge responsibility. You have an obligation to provide the best for your pet. This
means that you must provide a healthy diet, a good home, and proper vet care. Pets need
routine vaccinations, dewormings, heartworm preventative, flea control, etc. These are
things that your pet will need for itís entire life. If your pet is sick, you need to
take your pet to a veterinarian.

With a little thought and planning on your part, you can help to prevent unexpected
surprises after you take home your new pet. Ask questions and do your homework so that
you know what you are committing yourself to before you adopt. Be sure that you want a
pet for the right reasons. If you have any doubts it is better to wait. If you follow
these guidlines, you will end up with a great pet.


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to take the place of your regular veterinarian. Please do not hesitate
to contact your regular veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet.



Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
14 December 2002