By Janice Arsenault

Choosing to bring a pet into your life is a big decision that requires careful thought and preparation. Whether you choose a dog, a cat, a bird or a fish they all have their own unique requirements when it comes to commitment and care to consider before taking the plunge into pet ownership.

The average life span of a pet can range from 2- 3 years for a mouse all way up to 65 years for a parrot. Did you know that a goldfish can live for up to 10 years, the lifespan of a rabbit is 7-10 years or that a cat or dog will be a part of your life for 10-20 years? That is too long of a commitment to make on a spur of the moment decision. It is hard to resist that adorable little kitten or the talkative cockatiel in the pet store but, that kitten or bird will require a lot of ongoing care and attention for many years so you need to educate yourself before deciding to become a pet owner.

Before deciding on the right pet for you do your home work to make sure that your lifestyle is suited to the pet you want. Dog breeds such a Dalmatian, Retriever, Border Collie and Weimaraner are breeds of dogs that are best suited to people with an active lifestyle and make great companions for people who like to run, hike, and take long walks. Kittens are cute but they do grow up to be cats along with some unique needs such as scooping the litter box dally, making sure that they have appropriate surfaces to scratch and trimming their nails every two weeks to so they do not damage your furniture. Even fish have very specific requirements in food, water temperature, environmental needs such as salt water or fresh water and let’s not forget cleaning the aquarium so that they have a healthy place to live.

One of the most important ongoing costs of pet ownership is pet food. No matter what type of pet you have the higher quality of pet food you feed your pet the better their health will be. While the lure of low cost grocery store pet food may be enticing to your wallet, the higher quality pet foods available at a pet store or your vet office will offer your pet the benefits of a diet that is best suited to you your pets nutritional and life stage needs. There are many different brands of pet food available and your vet office or pet store personnel will be more than happy to help discuss your pets needs and direct you to the best choice for your pet so don’t be afraid to ask questions before deciding on which food to feed your pet.

Along with the creature comforts that your pet requires they will also need ongoing vet care to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. Dogs and cats need yearly vet checks and immunization updates at a minimum but you also need to budget for spay/neuter and emergency vet costs as accidents do happen. Emergency care for your pet can be quite costly so you need to be prepared by either purchasing pet health insurance or by putting aside a little bit each month for emergencies. One example to show how costly emergency vet care can be is a urinary blockage in a cat that can result in a $900.00 plus vet bill for blood work, x-rays and surgery to remove the blockage.

As you can see there are many factors to consider before making the commitment to pet ownership but with some advance research, being honest about your own lifestyle and financial abilities it can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make.