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How to Pick a Pet

When it comes to adopting a new pet, the options can seem endless. Dog or cat? Large breed or small? Young or adult? Breeder or rescue? Which is best?

Before you spend hours searching the Internet or head out to the shelter to find the cutest one, first consider your own personality and lifestyle. While the perfect pet does not exist, some pets will be a better match for you than others.

Energy Level

Are you a go-getter or do you prefer to relax and watch a movie? A runner would be happier with a young, athletic dog, whereas a homebody would be content with an older dog or a cat.

Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t running now, you probably aren’t going to pound the pavement because you adopted a two-year-old Labrador. Instead, you are probably going to be driven nuts by a hyperactive dog who never lets you relax.

Free Time

If you work 60 hours a week, spend weekends volunteering at a homeless shelter, and frequently take business trips, then you should consider a fish. If you want a furry friend, then maybe get a cat. Active dogs need playtime and walks to stay physically and mentally healthy.


Adoption may be free, but taking care of a pet is not. Be sure to make a budget for food, toys, boarding, grooming, and medical care.

In the first year, your pet will need to see a veterinarian several times. Factor in the costs of vaccines, spay or neutering, and exam fees. Animal Care Clinic is happy to give quotes for these routine services.

While you might want to skip vaccines, doing so puts your pet at risk of serious infection. The cost of hospitalizing your pet for an infection is much, much higher than getting shots, so think of vaccines as an investment in your pet’s life.

If you are having trouble paying your usual bills, then taking your new Great Dane to the emergency room after eating 11 socks could be a disaster. Remember that unexpected medical costs can come up with a pet and ask yourself what you will be able to do in this situation.

Consider the Kids

Some pets don’t get along well with children. Aggressive dogs or cranky cats can be a source of real worry for parents.

Although a family might not seem complete without a big friendly dog, whenever I meet a new mom with a new baby and a new puppy, she is usually about to pull her hair out. Take one major life step at a time, otherwise you may never get any rest.

Meet the Pet First

Even the best breeder can’t guarantee that all those puppies will be as gentle and even-tempered as their parents. Rescues tend to downplay problem behaviors while upselling cuteness or sad stories.

Spend some quality time with a dog or cat before adopting. Signs of aggression, hyperactivity, and fearfulness should all be taken seriously. Ask yourself if you can handle a high maintenance pet and be sure to answer honestly.

More Information

For more detailed information about puppy and kitten care, as well as common medical issues with pets, see Rachel's blog post about responsible pet adoption.

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