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How to Choose the Best Pet for Your Family

How to Choose the Best Pet for Your Family

A family pet can be a wonderful addition to the household. Besides bringing love and companionship into your home, pets can provide a learning experience for children. Caring for an animal teaches them compassion and responsibility, and being adopted can be a life-saving event for a dog or cat. Even if you don’t have the time or the finances to care for a large animal, there are smaller ones that make excellent pets.

How to Choose Best Pet Your Family Gerbil ImageMongolian Gerbils

At the small end of the pet spectrum, Mongolian gerbils are clean and sociable pets, and they’re less likely to bite than hamsters. Their habitat, at a minimum, should be a large glass aquarium with a metal mesh lid heavy enough that they can’t lift it. Like other rodents, their teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, so it’s important to give them lots to chew on. Heavy cardboard works well for exercising their jaws, and you can find harder materials made for gerbils in the pet store.


Cats are lower-maintenance animals than dogs, but they need a minimum amount of attention and care to thrive. You’ll need a place in your home to keep a litter box, and it should be cleaned daily. If you decide on a kitty for the family, consider adopting one from a shelter. Generally, there’s an adoption fee that includes spay or neuter charges and initial vaccinations for kittens. Cats can bond closely with people and they show affection by purring and sitting close to their people, sometimes right on their laps!


Canines require more time and attention from a pet owner than cats. Dogs are very sociable animals, and your dog will consider you to be part of her family. As with cats, adopting your pup from a shelter helps keep stray animals off the streets and lowers the rate of euthanization for unwanted animals. Shelter workers know the animals they care for well, and they can give you a good recommendation when it comes to selecting the right pet for your family. Dogs are often chosen according to breed and, to a certain extent, that makes sense. However, purebred dogs have a higher incidence of physical problems that are present at birth, including breathing and heart problems.

There are sometimes good reasons to adopt a particular breed, though. Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers and Airedales are among the breeds that don’t cause allergies in humans, for example, and this is an important factor for some families. If you do choose a purebred dog, make sure that the breeder is licensed and registered with the Canadian Kennel Club, and ask to see the dog at its original home. If a breeder insists on bringing the dog to you, it could be a warning flag that the animals are being overbred and/or kept in poor conditions.

How to Choose Best Pet Your Family Cat ImagePlanning

Once you’ve decided your family is ready to welcome a new member, take the time to plan ahead. Decide in advance who will feed and walk the dog or feed the cat and clean the litter box. Choose a veterinarian based on recommendations from friends who have pets and, if your dog is a particular breed, educate yourself about his special needs. For dogs, consider enrolling in obedience classes that include you and your pet. This can be a fun bonding experience for both of you, and it may save you from future frustration.

Pets Will Enrich Your Life

There’s a reason that so many pet owners treat their pets as if they were their own children. Animals are capable of affection, and they provide unconditional love and warm companionship every day of the year. If you have the means to provide your pet with regular vet care, the space to give it a good home and the time to spend with it, you’ll get so much more in return.


Photo credits: family dog, family catgerbil

About The Author

Sereena S.

Mom of two, wife to one, and a dog lover, although cats can be okay too. Sometimes.

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