Who doesn’t feel a pull on their heartstrings when they watch a video of a small child writhing in delight at a new puppy? Who doesn’t think, “That could be me,” when they see a cat doing something cute? Even the coldest of hearts can melt when animals show us humans just how much devotion they can have. Since such an addition can impact our lives for as long as 10-15 years, it is important to ask, “what pet should I get?” before heading to the local animal shelter or rescue. The answer might surprise you.

There are many choices and decisions to make when the time is right to get a new pet. Here are some of the most common animals to consider when asking what pet should I get:

  • Dog or puppy
  • Cat or kitten
  • Bird
  • Reptile
  • Fish
  • Rabbit
  • Pig
  • Horse

The right animal might not be your first choice. For greater confidence in your decision, it is helpful to ask some important questions before heading out to the local animal shelter or rescue agency. A little reflection upon what pet should I get could prevent a lot of heartache.

Why?

Motivation is a key to success for any venture, particularly for what will be a long lasting relationship with a furry bundle of joy. It is the beginning of a journey that will require commitment. Remembering the reasons why you brought an animal into your life will help tremendously when challenges arise. Is there a child in the house that will enjoy having an animal around for social integration or to learn responsibility? Are you looking for a pet that will provide a little structure, stability and companionship for yourself? Before asking, “what pet should I get,” establish the motive and keep that inspiration as you move forward with this rewarding journey.

Other Considerations

Once you have your motive and intention, there are other things to ponder. Is this a new pet for the household or an additional animal? Whether you’re bringing a new animal into the home or a providing a “friend” for your already-happy family is important to know. Each scenario has different responsibilities. It is good to clarify the home situation first before dealing specifically with “what pet should I get?”

How will other animals in the house react to a new pet? Do you know how your current dog will accept a new puppy, cat or rabbit? Do you know how your cat will react to the perceived intrusion by a dog? These questions are helpful for the lifestyle change you are about to introduce to all members of the household. There are many advantages to introducing a new pet into a household that already has furry members. Be sure to consider all the angles. If your current dog whines for your attention a lot or continues to have separation anxiety issues, it would be helpful to understand the impact on those behaviors when considering “what pet should I get?

Is the new pet going to adapt well to your children? Will your elderly mother-in-law who lives with you have a difficult time if you introduce a new animal? Does your child have allergies? If that is so, it is not necessarily the end of the conversation. Asking what pet should I get enabled the Obamas to provide a hypoallergenic Portuguese Water Dog named Bo a good home in the White House to the delight of their daughters, the eldest being allergy-prone.

Children surely benefit from the companionship and friendship of animals. Pets provide opportunities for them to learn about responsibility. An animal’s integration into a new home is something for everyone to take part in. If you hope your children will contribute to the pet’s care, it is important to have that conversation with them. Consider your child’s age and his or her interest and ability to take part in training, socializing and play.

More to Consider When You Ask Yourself, "What Pet Should I Get?"

Let us asses other factors like the home environment, lifestyle and resources when considering what pet should I get.

  • Household issues
  • Yard preparation
  • Active or passive lifestyle
  • Puppy or dog?
  • Shelter or breeder?
  • Pet Proofing
  • Finances
  • Time commitment

Household issues

I Have a Yard

Active or passive lifestyle

Puppy or dog?

Shelter or breeder?

Pet Proofing

Finances

Time

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs!

cats and dogs

Say you have narrowed your choices about what pet I should get to either a dog or a cat. Congratulations! You have made progress in planning for your future with a loving, devoted animal. They are a few more things to think about:

  • Personality
  • Research
  • Names

Temperament and Personality

Do Research

What’s In a Name?

Other Options

While dogs and cats are popular for many people, other species might factor into your decision about what pet should I get.

Birds of a Feather


love birds

There is more to life than cats and dogs. Parrots can live as long as 50 years. Other species make good companions. The key issues with birds are the ability of the animal to move comfortably in the cage and the amount of care they require.

Reptiles


turtle

Turtles, lizards and snakes might be appealing if you don’t have a lot of time to socialize, train and play with a new pet. How large and quickly the animal will grow is important to know. Reptiles are cold-blooded. Well-maintained temperature and well-regulated humidity are critical. Reptiles make great pets, but consider the “critters” you will have to handle when it’s feeding time. People with high squeamish levels should think carefully about reptiles when considering what pet should I get.

Fish


parrot fish

Fish can be simple and straightforward. Fish can also be a full-time hobby. There are many studies about the benefits aquarium fish have on stress and blood pressure. Feeding your fish can be a rewarding family activity. Whether you decide on a full aquarium or a moderately sized fish bowl will depend on your ambition and space. Many apartments and condo units have liability clauses for aquariums. Don't forget to look into that.

Choose between salt water and fresh-water fish, not both. Research things like temperature regulation, food, clean water and pesticides, and cleaning solutions or solvents that might contaminate the water before heading out to find Nemo. Certain fish do not co-habitate with others well. Your local pet store that has a good variety of fish species is a good place to inquire about what pet I should get.

Rabbits


rabbit inside a cage

Rabbits rate high on the cuteness factor. They are playful, fun and affectionate. Rabbits might not be the best choice if the home has small children because they are delicate, but rabbits are very clean and easy to care for; apartment or small home dwellings work well for them. The outdoors might not, though, if the temperature varies. While rabbits enjoy hopping around freely, it’s best not to leave them unattended, particularly if there is the possibility of other predators around. If hanging out in the yard with your rabbit is not for you, there are other possibilities on the list "what pet should I get."

Pigs


tea cup pigs

You’re walking down the street. You see a woman walking her pig. Who could resist the great conversation that makes? Pigs might be an option if a porcine breed suits your style. If zoning issues do not prevent you from choosing a pig as your new companion, check out different websites for adoption choices rather than going to a breeder.

Hold Your Horses


ponies on field

Just because you promised your 8-year-old a pony and your financial resources do not prohibit it, consider all that having a horse as a pet requires. It is a full-time job and carries with it many responsibilities, not to mention the high cost of feed, medical care, stabling, training and hoof care. But if you live in a rural area and have experience riding horses, owning one as a pet can be a rewarding adventure.

Enjoy

Having a household pet might be the most important decision you make in a long time. Asking the right questions from the beginning to the end, what pet should I get, will help to ensure an adventure of loyalty, devotion and companionship for everyone.

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