All About Pets All About Pets All About Pets

Is a pet right for your home?

Nearly half of all households in the United States and Canada have a pet. Sometimes a pet can be just what a family needs, but other times families soon discover their households simply don't make an ideal place for a pet.

Pets end up in shelters for a number of reasons -- most through no fault of their own. Moving is the primary reason family pets are relinquished, according to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy. Other top reasons include the cost of pets, animals given as gifts, lack of time to care for the animal, or an animal that grew larger than expected. One way to avoid this scenario is to accurately assess if a pet is right for the home.

Prospective pet owners who carefully analyze the pros and cons of pet ownership are more likely to keep their pet for the long haul. Certain animals require more care than others, and knowing about this can prevent the heartache of having to give away a pet. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

* What type of pet am I considering? A horse has different needs than a hamster. Learning about what each pet requires can narrow down the choices. For example, if you live in an apartment, horse ownership may be out of the question, unless you can afford to rent a stall at a nearby stable. If a landlord does not allow a dog, but accepts a cat, that further eliminates your options. Also, think about if you want a pet that will be affectionate or one that will just be fun to watch and low-maintenance.

* Why do I want a pet? Some people get pets for misguided reasons, such as it's the thing all their friends are doing or it's trendy. Others get pets to replace a pet lost to illness or simply because they desire companionship. Make sure the reasons you are getting a pet are the right ones and you are more likely to have positive outcomes. Otherwise you could be setting yourself up for a poor situation.

* Do I understand the responsibility associated with pet ownership? Getting a pet is not like getting another piece or furniture or the latest gaming system. This will be a new member of the family that will impact all the other members living in the house. They need to be involved in the decision. Depending on the pet, there will need to be daily care, such as providing food, changing litter boxes, taking the pet for walks, and providing affection. If you have a busy schedule that keeps you away from home for much of the day, a higher-maintenance pet, like a dog, may not be the best idea. It won't be fair to the animal or yourself. Perhaps a bird or small companion animal would be better.

* Am I financially capable of having a pet? Just like having a child or another dependant, pets cost money. If you are currently facing a money crunch, it's probably best to put off getting a pet. Expenses include food, veterinarian visits, gear, cages, and grooming.

* What is home life like? If your home is especially boisterous or on the small size, this should eliminate certain pets from the discussion. Many animals are skittish around crowds and may scatter and hide. They may also act out and bite or scratch if they feel overwhelmed by a lot of people. As for the space in the home, is it enough to fit a pet comfortably?

* Do you prefer a young animal or one older? Many people flock to puppies and kittens or young rabbits. While there are advantages to raising a young animal, an older pet has advantages as well. These include an animal that may have had prior training and housebreaking. Also, their personalities are developed and you'll know the adult size of the animal. Older animals are likely past the mischief stage and may be less likely to chew furniture or cause damage around the house.

Taking care of a pet is not a decision to make lightly. Asking important questions will enable you to make informed choices.