A Family Pet: Is Now The Right Time?

by Andrea Simmons

Ispos Public Affairs recently conducted a poll showing that nearly 60 percent of Canadians currently have a pet. A nationwide survey, The Purina Dog Chow Family Poll, also indicates that a little more than 60 percent of dog owners recognize their furry friend’s birthday and more than 80 percent of Canadian dog owners include their pet in their family photos. Pets enrich our lives and are as much a part of the family as your mom, dad, sister or brother. However, before you bring home your own pet, you need to know if the time is right, and you need to know how to choose the best pet to add to your current family.

Pet adoption image by BeckyCochran via Flickr.

Pets Can Build Your Child’s Confidence

Jill Priest, a noted Canadian dog trainer, states that over 1/2 of Canadian children are taking a leadership role to keep their dogs active through play. Approximately 1/3 of these children walk and feed their dogs. Priest also states that taking care of pets is great for building a child’s confidence. It teaches them to think about the needs of someone besides themselves.

As pet owners, children must work hard and be willing to make sacrifices and compromises. For instance, if a child’s pet is sick, he may need to cancel an outing to care for the pet.

Is This the Right Time?

According to training and behavior coordinator Cathy Guinane, a family must be able to spend a significant amount of time with a new pet. Avoid getting a new pet if you know you will be going on holiday or having a house full of guests shortly after bringing it home. These times are not appropriate because they interrupt the routine you need to establish. A good first step in deciding if the time is right is to take this Arizona Humane Society quiz.

If you rent a flat, you also need to ask the property owner if you are permitted to own a pet. Sometimes a property owner allows pets but places limitations on the type and/or size.

Consider Costs

  • Training
  • Licencing
  • Health care
  • Food
  • Supplies
  • Pet sitting services
  • Unexpected medical bills

Which Pet is Best?

A dog is playful, loves everyone and makes a great family companion. However, dogs do require a substantial amount of attention. Some breeds are better suited for a family than others.

A cat requires attention, but not nearly as much as a dog. For example, a cat does not feel the sense of abandonment a dog feels when left home alone. Cats are easier to take care of and are typically quieter than dogs. If you want to learn more about the various cat breeds and their personalities, visit catchannel.com.

While a dog defecates outside, a cat requires a litter box. The Humane Society recommends scooping your cat’s litter box daily and replacing the litter whenever it appears clumped or has an odor. However, a self cleaning litter box dramatically decreases the number of times a litter box needs to be scooped and cleaned.

Life Span

You must commit yourself to caring for your pet as long as he lives.

Pet life spans:

Cats and dogs – 10 to 20 years

Small birds – 15 to 20 years

Small animals (gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, fish) – less than 5 years

Large exotic birds (cockatoos, macaws) – 30 years

Tortoises – Over 100 years


Andrea Simmons

Andrea left a career in event planning when her twin boys made their debut. They’re off to kindergarten, and she’s blogging about parenting and relationships.

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