If you have decided to adopt a pet, you likely have already thought through the serious issues, such as your responsibility to their life-long health and welfare, the financial commitment of owning a pet, and if your lifestyle is appropriate for pet ownership. Now you only have to decide on the right pet for your family. Our team at Country Valley Veterinary Clinic would like to help you make this difficult decision by offering the pros and cons of a few popular choices.

Is a dog the right pet for my family?

Almost 50 million households own dogs, which makes them the most popular pet in the United States. Dogs have an 8- to 16-year lifespan, depending on their breed.

  • Pros — Dogs are loveable, loyal, social creatures who come in many sizes and temperaments, and make wonderful companions. High energy breeds, such as border collies, Australian shepherds, and weimaraners, are great for active families. More sedentary breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles spaniels, pugs, and basset hounds, are great choices for more laid-back families.  If your family has children, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and beagles are good options. There are also many loveable mixed breed dogs available from shelters and other rescue organizations. 
  • Cons — Dogs are high maintenance pets. They need to be walked and fed several times a day. Puppies need training and socializing to ensure they become well-adjusted and well-behaved adult dogs. High energy breeds need regular, strenuous exercise. Dogs can also be expensive pets, and need regular veterinary care.

Is a cat the right pet for my family?

About 32 million households own cats, making them the second most popular U.S. pet. Indoor cats’ life span ranges from 13 to 17 years.

  • Pros — Cats make great companions, and since they are litter box trained, they do not need walking. They are a great choice for senior citizens, because they tend to need less attention than dogs, and older cats especially are usually not as energetic. Cats are also good for people living in small homes, because they do not require much space.
  • Cons — While cats are not as high maintenance as dogs, they still need attention. They need to be fed daily, and their litter box needs to be cleaned frequently. They also require daily play time to keep them mentally and physically engaged. While not as pricey as dogs, caring for cats can still be expensive.

Are fish the right pets for my family?

About one million households own fish, making them the third most popular pet in the United States. The common goldfish can live up to 20 years if cared for properly.

  • Pros — Maintaining a fish tank is a great learning experience, and watching the fish can be extremely relaxing. Fish are great for people who work long hours, have limited space, and who are allergic to furry pets.
  • Cons — Keeping a fish tank clean and healthy requires regular maintenance that takes time and can get messy. You also need to do your research, to ensure the fish you get will cohabitate nicely. Maintaining a fish tank can be expensive.

Is a rabbit the right pet for my family?

Rabbits can live 10 to 20 years.

  • Pros — Rabbits tend to be quiet, docile pets if socialized appropriately. They can be litter box trained, and they can also learn tricks, and be trained to jump through agility courses. Rabbits are social, affectionate pets who will come when called.
  • Cons — Rabbits chew on everything, including your furniture and baseboards. They need a large space to move around, and they also need time outside the cage to exercise. They require a specialized diet so they do not develop gastrointestinal complications. Rabbits are not the best choice if your family includes children, because they are fragile, can easily be injured, and can be aggressive if they are not socialized appropriately. Rabbits can also be expensive.

Is a bird the right pet for my family?

A bird’s lifespan depends on their breed. Finches can live 7 to 10 years, parakeets can live up to 15 years, and parrots can live up to 70 years.

  • Pros — Birds are intelligent, and many are affectionate toward their owner. Birds do not take up much space, but their cage should be as large as your home can accommodate. Many bird species also require time outside of their cage on a regular basis. 
  • Cons — Birds can be noisy and messy. You will need to clean their cage and the surrounding area daily. While they can be more low-maintenance than dogs or cats, birds still require daily attention, and will need time out of their cage every day. Because some birds live so long, they may outlive you, and they will need a caretaker in your absence. Birds can be very intelligent and require much attention to prevent behavioral issues.

Is another pet right for my family?

Other pets that are commonly enjoyed include guinea pigs, rodents, reptiles, and pot-bellied pigs. Outside, people often have horses, sheep, goats, and chickens. All these pets require time and attention. Please call if you have any questions!

When you find the right pet for your family, the connection is priceless. If you have questions about which pet would be best for your family, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Country Valley Veterinary Clinic. We can help you decide which pet would best fit your family’s lifestyle.