No family is complete without a pet. They’re our trusted companions through thick and thin.
Pets force your family to go outside more, which means you’ll have more time to bond and be more physically fit. Taking care of a pet also teaches children empathy, confidence, and responsibility.
Some studies suggest pets lower your blood pressure and make you a happier person in the long run.
But, with so many different types of pets to choose from, where do you start? Below we’ve compiled a list of pet animals that can help get you started, plus some tips on picking the right one for your family.
A Guide to Considering Different Types of Pets
Pet stores have so many options. Choosing the right pet can be overwhelming. Do you buy a 100-pound dog or a one-ounce hamster?
There’s more to consider than which animal is the cutest. Owning a pet is a huge commitment, where for a decade or longer you’re on the hook for providing its daily essentials.
Before making any purchases, ask yourself these questions about owning a pet:
- Can you afford a pet? Dog owners spend more than $1,000 a year, according to the American Pet Manufacturers Association
- Do you have time for a pet? If you travel a lot or work long hours, consider how much time you’d have for a new pet
- Are you renting? Owning pets can be tricky in an apartment, make sure you have permission to have animals in the building
- Do you have small children? Keep in mind that some types of animals are not safe to have around little ones
The smartest thing to do when selecting a pet for your family is to do a lot of research and know what to expect.
Dogs and Cats Are the Most Common Family Pets
Besides fish, dogs and cats are the most common pets. In the United States there are 79.5 million dogs and 93.6 million cats. There’s a reason families select these pet types.
Although they have different personalities, both dogs and cats make wonderful companions. They’re affordable to own, blend in with most living situations, and possess that “cute” factor. So which one should you choose: a dog or a cat?
First, understand that dogs are pack animals while cats are lone hunters.
Dogs prefer living in a group and getting a lot of attention, while cats are more independent. With their pack mentality, dogs are easier to train for most things, but cats will house train faster.
Most dogs need room to exercise so living in a cramped space won’t work for them. They may become destructive. Cats, on the other hand, are perfectly suited for apartment life.
And on average, dogs are more expensive than cats. When choosing between the two, think about which type of pet fits in with your personality and lifestyle.
Enjoy Hours of Family Fun With Small Mammals and Rodents
Not ready to commit to a large animal with complex needs? A small mammal or rodent could be perfect for you. There are many options in these categories: rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, sugar gliders, and more.
These animals have a shorter life span than dogs or cats. They also spend the majority of their time in a cage so you don’t have to worry about things being destroyed in your house.
Rodents have different personalities and needs. Some are only active at night, for instance, while others are more prone to bite. Hamsters are great escape artists and Guinea Pigs need a daily source of Vitamin C. These are things you should know ahead of time.
Small mammals like rabbits, sugar gliders, or ferrets require more effort to take care of than rodents, but they’re also more interactive. These animals are very playful and intelligent, so invest in some toys to keep them entertained. But make sure the toys are safe.
When selecting toys for sugar gliders, for example, make sure none of the pieces will fall off. Toys should only be made of non-toxic materials. Veterinarians recommend buying them human baby toys.
Toys for any pet should be carefully inspected and sanitized to protect the animal.
Some Reptiles and Amphibians Make Great Starter Pets
Reptiles and amphibians aren’t for everyone, but some breeds make great starter pets because they don’t need a lot of space or special care.
Experts recommend selecting a reptile breed that is docile, easy to manage, and friendly enough to play with your children. Owning reptiles can get very expensive so when shopping ensure you’re selecting a reptile for beginners.
Here are five suggestions for kid-friendly reptiles and amphibians:
- Leopard Gecko: “These passive creatures have unique vocal cords allowing them to squeak and bark”
- Crested Gecko: “This second gecko option possesses a range of colors and patterns with unique personalities”
- Bearded Dragon: “Low maintenance, friendly, adaptable and docile”
- Corn Snake: “A popular small breed of snake growing 5.5 feet long but remaining very thin their whole lives”
- White’s Tree Frog: “These pudgy little fellas are docile, hardy, unafraid of humans and are often reluctant to jump”
You may be surprised how easily reptiles and amphibians fit in with your family.
Do Your Research Before Bringing Home Any Pet
We’ve listed common types of pets for your family, but there are many other options ranging from a goldfish to a horse. The key here is to find a pet that matches your family’s interests, schedule, and ability to care for it.
Think it through beforehand. Why do you want a new pet? What do you expect from it? Do you have the time or money to care for it? These are all questions to ask before making a big commitment.
Finally, don’t forget to research the animals and breeds you’re considering. Have you considered that a Siberian Husky might not be ideal for your 800-square-foot apartment? Or that a Monitor lizard is more likely to bite or attack your children?
Not doing your homework could end in disaster.