Choosing a new family pet is exciting, but can be daunting, too. From size, to species, to age, and everything in between, you’ll need to factor in many variables when determining the perfect pet for your family. So, where should you start? We’re here to help. 

Start by asking a series of simple questions and sorting through some important considerations to narrow down your search, which will pay off in the long run. Soon enough, you’ll be heading home with your dream pet! Here are a few questions to answer to get started.

Cat, dog, pocket pet, or …

Other species? The first step is to decide on the type of pet you’re looking for. If you want a playful, lifelong pet to possibly take on hikes or adventures, a dog may be the right fit for you. If your family travels a lot or spends much of their time outside the home, an independent cat may be a better choice. Will this be your family’s first pet? Consider a small pocket pet such as a hamster or Guinea pig, which are fun, and provide a great learning experience for children—and adults—new to caring for animals. Novice pet owners may want to steer clear of reptiles and amphibians, which can be finicky, and their care can be difficult. Plus, many may harbor bacteria that could be dangerous to children. Of course, any species you choose will need the essentials for every living creature—love, attention, and basic care.

Big pet or small pet?

Size should be a huge factor—no pun intended—in choosing your pet type. First, take into account your living space. Do you physically have room for a large- or giant-breed dog? Does your landlord allow only pets under a certain weight? Next, you’ll need to consider what you’re looking for in a pet. If you live in the penthouse suite and will spend most of your time with your pet going for short walks or cuddling on the couch, a small or toy-breed dog or a cat may be more appropriate. If you live in a single family home with acreage or yard access, an energetic or large-breed dog may be up your alley. Do you have tiny toddlers learning to walk at home? Perhaps a pint-sized pet isn’t the best option—for your kids’ and your pet’s sake. While size isn’t everything, it should be an important consideration in choosing the right pet. 

Young pet or adult pet?

Everyone loves a tiny puppy or kitten, right? Well, sure. Raising a puppy or kitten can be an extremely rewarding experience for the whole family, but that doesn’t mean they are the right fit for every family. Like babies and children, younger pets require more time, attention, and redirection. Their propensity to nibble, chew, and scratch can also mean they are a hazard around small kids. 

Adopting an adult or senior pet is a favorable option, because you often have a better idea of the animal’s temperament, needs, and size. Many older pets are also already house trained and know basic commands, which can be helpful for busy families taking on a new pet. 

Long-haired or short-haired pet?

Furry, long-haired, or thick-coated breeds can be stunning, but their upkeep can be another story. When considering a pet with a luxurious coat, factor in their grooming requirements. Many breeds require routine brushing or combing, along with regular trips to the professional grooming salon. These can help bond your pet with your family, but grooming requirements often come with a significant time and financial commitment. 

A pet from a breeder or shelter?

Given the number of pets who are relinquished to animal shelters each year, considering adoption may be the ethical way to go. However, specific breed characteristics may be a deciding factor for certain families. Choosing between an animal shelter and a breeder is a deeply personal decision that will require a family discussion. There is no right or wrong choice, but the decision warrants time, intention, and reflection. 

At Acorn Animal Hospital, we know the decision to bring home a new pet isn’t one you take lightly—and neither do we. Should you ever need guidance on choosing the right pet for your family, don’t hesitate to contact us. And, of course, don’t forget to schedule their first appointment with us when you finally make this important decision.