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posted: 7/28/2014 1:22 PM

Tips on selecting the right pet for you and your family

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  • Young pet lovers attend the 2013 University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Open House in Urbana. This year's open house, set for Sunday, Oct. 5, will feature all kinds of possible pets, from snakes to dogs and horses.

      Young pet lovers attend the 2013 University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Open House in Urbana. This year's open house, set for Sunday, Oct. 5, will feature all kinds of possible pets, from snakes to dogs and horses.
    Courtesy of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

 

"How do you persuade your parents to get a pet?" asked a young patron attending Vernon Area Library's "Write Away" program.

It's the dog days -- the time between July and August when the star Sirius in the constellation Canis Major gleams brightest in the night sky.

Could it also be a good time to think about dog or pet ownership?

Angela Lambert, manager at Kay's Animal Shelter in Arlington Heights, said summer months are the most popular for dog adoptions. Lambert said a good number of dog-owning families have moms with summers off and they consider the down time to be a great time to break in a new puppy.

Kittens are mostly born in winter, so that's the best time for future cat owners to search for a new pet.

While there are no cat stars, bird stars or rat stars, the No. 1 favorite pet in America is the feline. Cat owners top the list at 95.6 million U.S. households, followed by 83.3 million American dog owners.

Doing your homework can help persuade parents to purchase a puppy or kitten.

Abbey Trobe, veterinary technician and owner of Aussie Pet Mobile traveling at-home groomer for dogs and cats, remembers when she convinced her parents to adopt the menagerie in her childhood home, including dogs, cats and rats.

"It's a great thing for kids to grow up with pets -- it enriches their lives and offers many positive life lessons like caring for something, responsibility, love and trust," Trobe said.

She suggests inviting a parent to attend a pet show to gather information on the best pet fit. The pet show lowers the emotional connection to the fact-finding mission when compared to taking a stroll through a pet adoption center, where nearly all visitors seem to leave cuddling a new pet family member.

Once you figure out the best pet for your family and lifestyle, remember, there is a cost. Good pet parenting must include trips to the vet to ensure good pet health. Up-to-date vaccines protect your pet and you from illness and disease.

An annual budget estimate should add in food and toy costs and pet sitting or boarding. See aspca.org for a chart that shows possible annual costs for a variety of house pets -- cat, dog, fish, rabbit and guinea pig.

Dr. Julia Whittington, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, reminds future pet owners about the long-term commitment that comes with that new kitty, puppy or hamster.

"Before bringing a pet home, you should research the needs of the animal you are thinking about getting. Owning a pet is a commitment that can last many years," Whittington said. "Don't get a pet just because it's cool."

She suggests talking to a veterinarian to learn the facts about the pet you'd like to bring home, especially if you select an exotic pet such as a gecko, cockatiel or hedgehog.

Vets can tell you the best places to find your new pet -- reputable breeders, adoption agencies, breed rescues and other options that will help connect you to your new pet family member.

A final tip -- is there a neighbor pet that seems like it could be a good fit in your home? Offer to take care of it for a day, or a week. That on-the-job training will let you and your parents know how committed you are to being involved in your pet's care and help your family to visualize daily life with a pet.

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