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home : columns : columns January 23, 2019

4/10/2018 1:13:00 PM
Which pet is right for you?
Hazel on her harness. Rabbits make great pets. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Hazel on her harness. Rabbits make great pets. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

Sharing your life with a pet has great benefits and can bring you great joy. As well as the unconditional love, affection and friendship that pets provide, there are also therapeutic benefits that go along with being a pet parent, such as improved general health and well-being.

Before you get your heart set on a particular animal, its helpful to consider all of your options and think about what type of furry friend will best fit your lifestyle and personality.

Each type of pet is different in terms of care, feeding, behavior, cost, housing and demands on your time. One key question to ask yourself is where to find your new furry family member. Please consider adopting: there are many wonderful dogs, cats, rabbits or other animals at your local animal shelters. There are also rescue groups for many specific dog breeds and other types of pets. And the staff at the animal shelter can help you find just the right pet for you. They know the animals in their care and can help you make a good match for your personality and lifestyle.

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets in the world. Cats are more independent and are generally less demanding. Dogs are loyal and obedient, but require more attention and exercise, including regular walks.

Cats and dogs have different needs and characteristics, and whether one is right for you can often be determined by your lifestyle as much as personal preference.

Which one is right for you?

Dogs are very social creatures; they aren't happy being alone all the time. If you are thinking about getting a dog, make sure you're going to be able to spend several hours a day with him.

And adopting a puppy is a huge commitment, since you cannot leave a puppy home alone all day. Most puppies need to eliminate every two hours or so. And they need to be house-trained and learn basic commands. If puppies are not handled often and socialized when young, they may become shy and fearful.

You'll also want to consider where you live, how much space you have, and what your lifestyle is. For example, very active dogs may not do well confined to a small apartment or living in a big city, unless you are thoroughly committed to providing your dog with plenty of exercise. Dogs need at least one walk a day outside their home.

Dogs need a lot of interaction with their pet parents to be happy. If you're very busy and spend little time at home, a dog might not be a suitable pet for you.

For people who tend to work more hours, a cat might be the right pet for you. Contrary to popular opinion, many cats are social animals and love attention. Though most cats don't require walking or as much attention as dogs, they still need play time and petting on a daily basis.

Cats don't tend to need as much indoor space as dogs. So, if you have limited space, a busy lifestyle and would like a pet that's a bit more independent, you may be better suited to a cat instead of a dog. Cats are relatively quiet, independent and can be left alone to sleep and entertain themselves for most of the day.

But cats are very fastidious about their litter box habits, so it's important to keep the litter box clean and fresh. Cats also need to scratch, so a sturdy post is necessary.

Still can't decide?

A rabbit might be the answer. Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who need affection. They can become wonderful companions if given a chance to interact with their human families

A rabbit can use a litterbox like a cat and get excited to see you like a dog, but really, rabbits aren't quite like either of these animals.

Rabbits have strikingly distinctive personalities and love to spend time with their humans. They require human interaction. Without it they can get bored, even to the point of becoming lonely and depressed.

Rabbits need daily care. If they are not handled gently and often, they may not be comfortable with being picked up and cuddled. Rabbits have a fairly delicate digestive system; to obtain nutrients, they must be fed a special varied diet. And as with any family pet, your bunny will need to see the veterinarian for regular checkups. Rabbits should also be spayed or neutered to make them happier, healthier pets.

Whatever pet you choose, keep in mind that you are making a long-term commitment, since pets can live up to 10 years or more. Your pet will need attention, love, and respect from you: food and water are not enough. Pets need to be part of the family.

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