Pets make life better. But, which pet will be best for you? 

Help ensure you and your future pet enjoy a long and beautiful friendship by following the Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek’s pet selection guide.

First things first: What can you offer a pet?

Before you start scrolling for cute pets on social media, look closely at your home, lifestyle, and budget. A realistic, accurate inventory of what you can offer a pet helps narrow down your search and prevents impulse decisions.

Things to consider include:

  • Care costs — All pets have lifelong and ongoing expenses, such as food, shelter, bedding, veterinary care, supplies, pet health insurance, medications, parasite preventives, and services such as grooming, training, or boarding. In addition, consider unexpected or emergency costs if the pet is sick or injured, or needs surgery. Online pet cost calculators can help you calculate the approximate amount you could spend on a specific species or breed over their lifetime.
  • Space — Pets need varying amounts of living space—from outdoor pastures to indoor habitats, aquariums, and enclosures. Consider your housing situation carefully to determine how much room you can provide your pet, remembering that they will need some room to grow—your young pet’s initial needs likely won’t match the space they require as an adult.
  • Local regulations — Check your local regulations and renters or homeowners agreement, as well as any neighborhood bylaws, for species or breed restrictions. 
  • Time — How much time can you devote to a pet? This includes daily attention, feeding, care, training, and exercise. Will your pet be alone most of the day? Do you travel regularly for work or leisure? Will you need to hire a pet sitter much of the time?
  • Lifestyle — Are you an active and social person or family, or do you stay close to home? Will you or another household member have time to physically exercise the pet? Remember, finding a pet who suits your current lifestyle makes more sense than assuming you will adjust your life to accommodate the pet. 

Write down your honest answers about what you can offer a pet.

Describe your perfect pet

Next, list the features and characteristics that you are looking for in a pet. If this is a family activity, be prepared for multiple or opposing answers. Categories to define include:

  • Size
  • Age
  • Appearance
  • Personality
  • Energy level
  • Trainability
  • Health issues
  • Grooming or care needs
  • Role in the home (i.e., do you expect to involve your pet in every family activity or only at select times?)

Ensure everyone in the home agrees about a pet

If your family has disparate answers to the above questions, now is the time to discuss them and explore potential compromises or alternatives. Household unity is crucial not only for ensuring your pet remains in your home for their whole life, but also that every family member welcomes, respects, and cares for them. If children will be involved in the pet’s care, you need to discuss their responsibilities. The Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek team always recommends that a family set up a chain-of-care that includes an adult to ensure all the pet’s needs are met, should a child lose interest.  

Meet species or breed experts and interact with potential pets

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s time to get to know potential pets. Contact species or breed experts in your area—a national organization dedicated to your potential pet (e.g., Pug Club of Canada, Canadian Sugar Glider Registry) or pet category (e.g., herpetology or avian clubs) can help you with a local connection. Club members, exhibitors, fanciers, and reputable breeders are knowledgeable and passionate about their chosen pets and can help you get to know the species or breed on a closer—often in-person—level.

If you’re planning to adopt a pet, contact local shelters, rescue organizations, and adoption centers to let them know the type of pet you’re seeking. If the right match comes along, these facilities are often willing to host meet-and-greets or foster-to-adopt arrangements that can help you determine if the pet is the right fit for you.

Good things take time: Don’t rush your pet search

Adding a new pet to your home is an exciting idea, but don’t hurry your decision. Trust the process and ensure you’ve considered everything. This may seem like a lot of work, but you will minimize the heartbreak, frustration, and negative emotions that ultimately follow an inappropriate pet match. Most importantly, innocent pets will not be returned to the breeder or a shelter—where their fate may be unknown. 

If you need professional advice, contact the Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek team. Our resident pet experts are happy to give you the inside scoop on a variety of pet species and breeds and refer you to reputable breeders, adoption centers, and rescue organizations.

If you’ve recently welcomed a new pet to your home, congratulations! Contact our team to schedule their first appointment and ensure, with our help, you set them up for a life of health and happiness.