Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet

March 22nd, 2015 | By Marjie No Comments

With nicer weather approaching, many families may be wondering if now is the right time to welcome a four-legged friend into their home.

“Animals are a great way to teach responsibility, get active, and add a little fun to your daily routine,” says Dr. Ira Roth, director of the UGA Community Practice Clinic.  “However, they are a long-term commitment that should not be taken lightly.”  He added that some people get a pet spontaneously and don’t take the time to properly research what would be the best fit for their lifestyle.  “Adding an animal to your family is a wonderful thing if you are prepared,” Roth says, “but it can be problematic if you don’t do your homework.”

For example, while a dog can be a great companion, the wrong type of dog can set you up for failure.  Certain breeds are well-known for being more high energy than others.  Other breeds are known for not being very good with children.  By doing your research beforehand, you are more likely to select a dog that fits your lifestyle.  If you love to run, you may want to get a dog that can join you.  If you have more of a sedentary lifestyle, you may want to aim for a breed that only needs minimal exercise.

“One size does not fit all when it comes to pets, especially dogs,” Roth explains.

The same can be true for cats.  Different types of cats have different personalities, so take the time to look into your options.  Cats make great pets, especially if you have a small house or apartment, or if you travel a lot.  They don’t require the amount of exercise that dogs do and they can be fun companions.  However, you will need to clean out their litter box daily.

Additionally, while hamsters, lizards, fish, and birds may seem like they would be less work, typically the opposite is true.  They need regular cage care, a consistent balance of temperature and light, and special diets to be able to thrive.  If that is something that you think your family would enjoy, then they might make great pets.  Again, do some research and make sure you are making the best choice for your situation.

“No matter what type of pet you select, they all require some sort of time and financial commitment,” Roth says.  “It is important to consider how often you are at home and be realistic about your family’s resources.”

Routine care, food, and parasite control can cost upwards of $300 a year for a dog.  Cats tend to be slightly less due to their size, but they still require routine veterinary care.  Talk to a local veterinarian if you are concerned about potential costs, and they can help give you some estimates.

“While pets can be a lot of responsibility, they can also be a great blessing to you and your family,” Roth says. “With a little bit of research, you can select a companion that will bring joy to your home for years to come!”

The UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital treats more than 24,500 small and large animals each year, and offers 25+ specialty services, including a 24-hour emergency service.  For more information about the hospital, visit

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