Choosing the right pet for your lifestyle

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Bringing a new pet into your home and your life carries a lot of extra responsibility. There are so many different factors to take into account, from whether or not you can afford the ongoing care to what type of breed to go for.

One of the most important things to consider, is how your new cat or dog will fit into your lifestyle? This is one of the most important parts of being a responsible pet owner, as even those with the best intentions can find themselves struggling to deal with a pet that’s completely wrong for their current lifestyle.

Choosing a new dog

Before you rush out and bring that new Labrador or Poodle home, there are some key points you need to consider to ensure you make the best choice for your lifestyle.

Firstly, how much time can you reasonably set aside for playing and exercising with your dog? Think about your work, social life and other commitments – do you have the space in your schedule to add in some daily walks with your new pet?

It is generally recommended to get at least two 20-minute walks in with your dog each day, but keep in mind some breeds will need longer or more frequent sessions as well. For example, Airedale terriers, border collies and Australian Shepherd dogs are all known for being more energetic breeds. There are some dogs that don't need much exercise as well—this generally includes short nosed dogs such as Pugs and Bulldogs and even some larger dogs like the Great Dane.

If you or any of your family members have allergies you may want to consider getting a hypoallergenic dog, such as a Bichon Frise, Poodle, Border Terrier or Labradoodle. Regardless of what type of dog you choose, having a dog comes with more dust and dirt in the house, so you may want to allow some extra time to keep the house clean.

Grooming is another important point to consider. It goes without saying short haired breeds will need less maintenance in this department, but if your pooch is of the long haired variety like the Maltese, you’ll need to spend more time ensuring their shaggy coat gets enough attention.

You'll also need to consider where you live. First think about the amount of space that you have as it will influence how comfortably your new dog can settle in. Larger breeds will need more than an apartment to run around in, so if your home is already smaller than you’d like, you need to consider whether a dog is a good idea at all, otherwise you may need to settle with a small breed.

The climate you live in is something else you need to factor in. If you live in a hot climate and your dog is going to spend a lot of time outdoors you should consider your dog’s coat, size and facial features. Dogs with a lot of hair are prone to retaining body heat and don’t fare well on hot days. Very large dogs can also suffer in the heat particularly when getting exercise. Short-nosed dogs also suffer in the heat as they can't pant and get rid of their excess body heat.

Choosing a new cat

If your pet preferences lean more towards the feline variety, many of the same rules apply. You still need to ensure you have enough time to care for and play with your cat, especially as they tend to lead less active outdoor lives than their canine counterparts.

Cats have different temperaments and health concerns, so if you’re interested in getting a particular breed, it's a good idea to get to know the characteristics before you make your final decision to purchase. For example, Russian Blue cats don’t deal well with a lot of noise, change and surprises and so they tend to be more suitable for people with quieter and calmer lifestyles.

On the other hand, Maine Coon cats are relatively easy going and can do well in both active family households and quieter homes as long as they get plenty of attention.

Whilst most cats groom themselves regularly, cats with medium or long hair still need some grooming. Brushing your cat’s hair is a great way to spend some one-on-one time with your cat and give them some attention.

As with dog’s, another factor to consider is allergies—but don’t despair if you or someone you live with has a cat allergy. Sometimes the allergy is only related to one type of coat, so you may still be able to make your dream of being a cat owner a reality.

Your home environment is another thing to think about. If you live in an apartment or on a busy road, you may want to keep your cat permanently indoors. This means making sure your cat gets the stimulation that they would otherwise get by roaming outdoors. You can do this by spending more time entertaining your cat as well as providing them with scratching posts to allow them to jump, climb, and use their claws.

Do you have room for a litter tray? It will need to be located somewhere private and away from food. And for each cat you own, you'll need a separate litter tray.

Caring for your pet

Once you’ve chosen your pet companion, the next step is to ensure you can continue to care for your new pet. They can get up to all sorts of mischief, and sometimes they can sick or injured from accidents, meaning trips to the vet, which can be very expensive for pet owners. Pet insurance is one way you can help ensure your cat or dog gets the medical attention they need. Having a policy can assist toward eligible vet bills for specified accidental injuries or illnesses, and Choosi can help you compare from a range of trusted Australian pet insurance brands.

Posted: 28 Feb 2014

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