At Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we’re occasionally asked “should the kids get a pet?”
If there are Wahroonga vet clinics (or any animal hospitals in Sydney for that matter) who advocate harder for bringing kids and pets together, we’re yet to meet them!
The joy an animal friend can bring to your family cannot be understated. However, most of the family pets that end up in animal shelters or in giveaway posts (or worse) began their journey into unhappy circumstances because the realities of pet ownership were ignored.
Choosing the right pet for your family’s lifestyle means moving beyond your children’s enthusiasm for a pet and considering their suitability as a pet’s carer. It means making sure your family is ready for the responsibility a family pet can bring.
Here are a few tips to ensuring the adventure of a family pet is a successful one.
1) Choose the right pet for your family
Wahroonga vet clinics may come and go out of your pet’s life, but a pet is here to stay for a fairly long time. At least in a lot of cases. You need to consider the sort of pet that suits your family lifestyle. And you need to match the type of pet to the type of family you are.
For example, dogs are pack orientated animals that require regular exercise, a lot of space, and attention. If your family lives in a flat and/or doesn’t have a lot of spare time, the chances of a dog working out with your family are pretty slim.
The personality of the person charged with looking after the pet is also very important. If your child is very active and easily bored, choosing a pet that is quiet, nocturnal and requires regular upkeep and study such as tropical fish, reptiles or crustaceans probably won’t work.
The trick to finding the right pet for your family is to match the pet’s personality and preferred lifestyle with the personality and lifestyle of your family.
2) Think beyond the present time
Reptiles, horses, and certain breeds of bird can live for 3 decades or more. It isn’t just longer living pets that need this sort of consideration. All pets are a commitment in time.
Dogs and cats can live for 15 to 20 years. Rabbits can live up to a decade, and even the humble guinea pig usually averages 5 to 8 years of life.
Pets rely on you for their care. If you choose to take on a pet, their feeding, cleaning, entertainment, socialisation, exercise, training, and life becomes your responsibility.
Make sure you are in the right kinds of circumstances to make a commitment of that level for the length of time required.
3) Make sure you can afford a family pet
The responsibility to your pet does not end at paying the shelter fees. Wahroonga vet clinics like ours will need to see your pet on a regular basis to ensure they remain happy and healthy.
Every 6 months to a year, your family pet will require a check up, immunisation, dental treatments and vet assessment. Standard things like de-sexing, boarding when you are on holidays, and regular medications such as flea, tick and worm prevention, and council registration all cost money. Plus you have to consider the cost of accidents, injuries, breed specific problems, genetic issues, general disease and illness, allergies and old age complaints.
Pet insurance can help, but even the best pet health insurance will not cover all these expenses. And even that you need to budget for.
Plus there are every day costs such as feeding, grooming, and enrichment. There may be specialised upkeep such as aquarium chemicals, electricity for light or heating, specialised equipment and enclosures, license fees for birds and reptiles, stable fees and riding lessons for horses, and a whole bunch of other costs that may not be immediately apparent when choosing your pet.
Pets also cost more rent. Rentals in Wahroonga and surrounding areas that are pet friendly can be difficult to come by. Pet friendly places are not always readily available, and you will pay extra for things like a back yard. Share-houses that are pet friendly are rarer still.
That’s why it’s imperative to think about your pet ownership in regards to your future, and your future costs, too.
Always ask a seasoned professional like a vet for the advice you need- and do your research prior to selecting your new pet to ensure you can afford to give them the kind of care they require.
By the way, if we have been treating your pet for a while and we know their nature, a pet reference isn’t out of the question from one of the trusted Wahroonga vet clinics (i.e. us) if needed.
4) Pets take time
Family pets are a heck of a lot of fun, but they can also be a heck of a lot of work, too.
For example, the first 2 years of a puppy or kitten’s life is going to mean adjustment for the pet as well as your family. And it doesn’t begin and end with toilet training or puppy school, either.
It takes time to get a puppy or kitten to respond to you in a positive way. And that comes through training. The training and the response to your pet’s behaviour in the early stages of their life MUST be consistent. And it is incredibly repetitive for the most part.
Puppy training is a daily occurrence. It means you learning how to train your new pet at puppy school and taking those lessons home with you- and repeating them until they stick. It also means having the whole family on the same page. After all, someone putting a shoe chewing puppy on a time out has little chance of getting the message across if someone else can’t resist their sad looking face and cuddles them instead.
The first two years of a cat or dog’s life is the most common time for them to find themselves in shelters or up for adoption. This can often be because a well intending family under estimate how cheeky, difficult and downright exasperating a young animal can be.
So please, make sure you have the time to give before you make the commitment.
Your checklist to make sure your family is pet ready:
- The family member(s) requesting the pet are old enough to feed, clean up after and look after your new family pet
- Where you live is suitable for pets in terms of space and safety- and pets are legally permitted there
- Your family is able to make a commitment for the pet’s life span
- You have done your research and know you have the time and money to care for them appropriately
- You know the ideal pet for your child’s personality and family’s lifestyle
- You’re fairly settled in your living circumstances, and any change would be able to accommodate your pet as well
If you need any extra help deciding on the right pet for your family, feel free to ask! If you are choosing a new puppy, don’t forget puppy school classes. If you are after a rescue cat or kitten, give us a call or check The Fox Valley Animal Hospital Facebook page.
And don’t forget to bring your new pet in to see Dr Alex or Dr Katie for their check up. Give us a call on (02) 9489 4805 to arrange an appointment.
Happy pet adopting!