How to choose the right pet for your household
Cat person? Dog lover? These questions have no right or wrong answers, but they should be explored in detail by those looking for their very first pet.
For the ultimate happy relationship, a new pet needs to suit its parent’s lifestyle. Active young families have a different energy and dynamic to quieter empty-nesters or office-bound singles, for example.
Becoming a pet parent is a long-term commitment so taking time to understand the right answer for you is invaluable, says PD Insurance Chief Operating Officer Michelle Le Long. The success of your relationship with your pet, your bank account balance and your own happiness could depend upon it.
“Cast versus dogs is an argument as old as the hills,” says Le Long. “But the fact is, as Kiwis’ preferred pets, they have differing characteristics and needs. Make an informed choice to get the best companion for your lifestyle and preferences so you only ever rejoice in your decision rather than feeling regret.”
Dog vs cat is easy, isn’t it?
So, dog or cat? That one isn’t as easy as you might think, says Le Long. “Most people know if they’re more of a dog or cat person. However, your living circumstances and financial situation should also factor into the decision.”
Dogs generally require more space, and you’ll need a bigger yard for larger or more vigorous breeds. Cats are often OK in apartments and townhouses where garden space is absent or limited. Dogs usually need walking, cats usually don’t. Cats are more self-sufficient than dogs and tend to need less attention. Cats are also very likely to need less spending on equipment and food.
“When it comes to dogs,” Le Long says, “top considerations also include appearance and characteristics. Dogs are renowned for their personalities and different breeds offer distinct characteristics.”
Personality to suit
Labradors and Golden Retrievers, for example, are known for their loyalty and good nature. Beagles are considered affable and friendly, a good choice for young families. Terriers, broadly, are mischievous, fearless, independent, and playful – with the Jack Russell a standout. So too French Bulldogs. a British Bulldog is somewhat sedate and a constant companion who prefers less exercise and more relaxation.
‘Trainability’ is often a key factor for many when narrowing the choice. The Beagle, for example, while easy going and intelligent, is willful and listens to its nose. On the other hand, a Border Collie – deemed the most intelligent dog breed by the Guinness World Records – can become astoundingly obedient but requires intensive training and lots of exercise.
“That’s the real joy of dogs,” says Le Long. “There’s one to suit your personality, lifestyle and habits – when aligned, you’ll both be happy. Get it wrong, and it could cause friction and unhappiness for both.”
“Cats have different breed personalities too, of course. And, as the old saying goes, dogs have owners and cats have staff – so the experience of parenting a cat is quite different!”
“Some felines are friendlier than others and will fit into a new home with ease,” she explains, noting popular breeds for those with children include the Abyssinian, Ragdoll, Birman and Burmese. “These breeds tend to crave human contact and will, despite the occasional supercilious stare, come in for regular cuddles and act as reliable lap warmers.”
Not everyone wants a gregarious cat, though, and that’s where breeds like the Siamese and hairless Sphynx are preferred. These fur babies can have a tendency to form strong bonds with a single person too, shunning all others – a category into which the American Wirehair falls too.
PD Insurance recommends researching the likelihood of hereditary and congenital health issues faced by any dog (or cat) breed on your shortlist, so you know what you’re likely to face as they mature.
“Choosing a pet must be done with eyes wide open. Know the breed’s characteristics and likely health issues and, above all, know yourself. Putting all these puzzle pieces together equips you for the best possible pet parenting experience – an experience which could last for up to two decades,” Le Long says.
“Include in your considerations whether the breed sheds hair and if it’s likely to dig or chew. These factors can have implications for both you and your property. Pet proofing is very much possible, however it’s best to know what to expect.”
She goes on to explain why any aspirant pet parent should calculate the costs of pet parenting: “Pet parenting entails ongoing cost commitments, like food, bedding, litter, toys, pet travel equipment, flea and worming treatments and more. Then there is the biggie – veterinary bills, which can be substantial.”
While this last item probably scares potential pet owners more than any other, Le Long says affordable pet insurance makes the costs predictable and affordable. “Pet insurance is a game-changer. From less than a dollar a day, pet parents can safeguard their fur babies’ medical and wellness needs and have the peace of mind that owning a pet won’t break the bank.”
Leandri Smith – The Mail Room
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