Few things are more exciting than welcoming a new pet into your family. Dogs and cats make excellent companions, and their unconditional love can make a house feel more like home. Make no bones about it, though—pet ownership is a serious commitment. Not every animal is right for every family, so it’s crucial to take your time and find a pet that’s right for you.
Whether you choose a dog or a cat, a pet is a lifelong commitment. Unfortunately, as veterinarians, we’ve seen far too many people give up great pets simply because they do not fit their lifestyle. That’s why we decided to share some tips to help. We think both cats and dogs are excellent pets, but one or the other may be a better fit for your lifestyle. Keep reading to learn more.
Cats vs. Dogs: Top Considerations
There are several factors to consider before adopting your first pet. Before you commit to bringing any animal into your home, keep these things in mind.
Important things to consider before getting a pet include:
- The cost of pet ownership
- How much time you have to care for a pet
- The size of your home and yard
- Any allergies you or your family members may have
- Who will care for the pet when you’re out of town
Costs of Pet Ownership
There is no such thing as a “free” pet. Even if someone is giving away puppies or kittens, all pets need appropriate care from their owners — and that care costs money. Before you get serious about bringing home a furry family member, consider whether you can afford to cover the cost of food, toys, veterinary checkups, vaccinations, parasite prevention, licensing, and other essentials throughout their life. And consider whether you could afford emergency care in the event of a severe injury or illness.
Consider Your Free Time
Do you work long hours and often return home so exhausted that you’re ready for bed? Or do you have a more laid-back schedule with plenty of free time? Like children, pets need a lot of attention, especially when they’re young. If you don’t have the time or energy to devote to raising and caring for a dog or cat, pet ownership might not be for you.
Size Of Your Home
Do you live in a high-rise apartment or a home without a fenced-in yard? Do you rent and, if so, does your landlord allow pets? Be sure to consider your ability to provide basic bathroom privileges for a new pet and appropriate yard containment for safety reasons.
Pet Allergies Within Your Family
Bringing a pet into your home only to discover that you or a family member is allergic is upsetting. If allergies are a problem in your household, it may be worth having an allergy test done before deciding to adopt a pet. It’s also wise to check with frequent visitors to see whether they have pet allergies.
Making sure to have a plan in place for your pet when you travel is also something to consider. In-home pet sitting or a boarding facility are two common options for dogs and cats. Be sure to factor in the cost of pet care while traveling into your budget.
Signs a Dog Is a Good Fit for Your Lifestyle
If you have an active lifestyle and love spending time outdoors, dog ownership could be right for you. However, even if you tend to spend more time inside, a canine could still be a good fit for your family — as long as you choose the right breed. Large and active breeds, like Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Boxers, do best when they have plenty of indoor and outdoor space to explore. Small breeds, like Pugs and Boston Terriers, are better dog breed options for apartment dwellers.
If you work long hours, have an extremely demanding job, or work an inconsistent schedule, getting a dog may not be your best bet. Dogs need to go outside several times each day to relieve themselves. While older dogs can wait longer than puppies, they still need regular potty breaks. In addition, dogs are not solitary animals by nature. They enjoy companionship and can suffer from boredom and separation anxiety when left alone too much.
Puppies aren’t born knowing how to live in our human world. Training a dog is a rewarding experience, but you have to have the time and dedication to be consistent. If you want a canine companion who can accompany you on trips and be around people and animals outside of your family, you need to train them. If this sounds like an exciting opportunity to teach and build a strong relationship with your pet, dog ownership may be right for you. If it sounds more like a burden, you may want to reconsider adopting this type of pet.
Signs a Cat Is a Good Fit for Your Lifestyle
Whether a dog doesn’t fit your lifestyle or you just think of yourself as more of a cat person, adding a feline friend to your family could be the right choice. Cats require less attention and time than dogs, but they still need appropriate care from their owners.
As long as you have room for a litter box and places where they can hide and perch, most cats do well in smaller homes and apartments. They don’t need to go out on daily walks. In fact, they are safest and healthiest when kept strictly indoors.
While cats enjoy social interaction, they aren’t pack animals like dogs. Most are content to lounge around the house and nap when their owners are at work. And as long as you provide some scratching posts and toys, a cat will have no trouble keeping themselves busy while you are out and about.
If you are looking for a relatively self-sufficient pet, one that doesn’t require a lot of training and doesn’t need quite as much attention as a dog, a cat may be a good choice.
Pet parenthood is a big responsibility. Adding a dog or cat (or both!) to your family is a significant decision that you shouldn’t make lightly. Whichever you choose, you’ll need to make sure they receive veterinary care throughout their life. That means things like having them spayed or neutered, keeping them up-to-date on vaccinations, bringing them in for routine checkups, and more.
If your new furry family member needs a veterinarian, we’d love to help! Contact us today to schedule an appointment and start them off on the right paw for a healthy, happy life.