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Choosing that special new addition for your family

Getting a new pet is a very big decision and one that should not be taken lightly. These days pets are living much longer and therefore if you are not committed to possibly 15 years of care and attention then you are not ready for a young kitten or puppy.  This decision requires adequate preparation, research, and commitment.  Pets are becoming family members and as such must fit in with the family lifestyle.

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Step 1: Determine the level of energy wanted in a pet, including your time and availability for it.

  • What is your lifestyle (very active or more sedate)
  • What is your home like (acreage vs. apartment)? Do you have a fenced yard?
  • How much time can you spend with the pet and does that change with the seasons?
  • Are you best suited for a cat? Or dog?
  • Should you consider an adult animal over a young one?

Step 2: Determine when to get a pet

  • When do you have the most amount of time on your hands to train and bond with the animal?

Step 3:  Deciding on a breed – all breeds have there own issues so it’s best to know what common problems certain breeds tend to have. Remember that mixed breeds may have less medical problems but their temperament and problems may be less predictable.

o First discuss your choices with your veterinarian: Who knows breed specific health problems better than your own veterinarian! Our doctors at Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital may be able to suggest a good breeder for specific breeds of dogs and cats.

o Talk to others who own that specific breed

o Talk to specific breed clubs: they have a wealth of information on their particular breed

o Consult breed books: a great place to start for the basics and to narrow down the field

o Search the internet: so much information can be very daunting and at times misleading

o Go to a cat or dog show

o Discuss which breeders: there are some excellent breeders out there but you must be careful.

Step 4:  Where to get your new friend

  • Breeder: Select your breeder carefully and read the contract. The health care is between you and your veterinarian and a good breeder will encourage this relationship.
  • SPCA or other Rescue association: There are many pets out there that have been abandoned and with a little extra care can make wonderful pets. If you don’t have the time to train a pup or kitten an adult may be a great option.
  • Pet store/Newspaper:  These pets also tend to have an unknown history and come from various sources. They may be prone to more health issues in both the short and long term.

Step 5: Selecting the specific individual

  • It is always best if you can see the pet and how it interacts with other people and other animals/siblings. This is not always possible with the advent of the internet and purchasing purebred puppies/kittens from great distances. Your breeder knows their animals the best and should be able to answer any questions on temperament or health you might have.
  • Ask questions of the breeder/seller of the animal. Is this individual (puppy, kitten or adult) dominant or not? Do they like to be handled?  How active or curious is this particular individual? How much exposure to people, children or to other pets have they had? What are the temperaments and health of the parents like (can you see/meet them).  Can you talk to their veterinarian, who takes care of their animals? Work with your breeder in choosing a pet with a personality that suits you.

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Always remember that new pets are not great gifts and do not go and look at puppies or kittens before your research has been completed as it is very easy to get drawn in by their charm.  Once you are able to make a better educated and informed decision, this new family member and you will enhance and enrich both of your lives.

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