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Adding a new pet to your family.

So you are ready to add a pet to your family. It’s always exciting to make the decision to get a new pet and it is a decision best made with time, consideration and research. However, especially during the holiday season, many pets are added to the family because of an emotional, spur of the moment decision. If you do have the time to consider options, there are many things to consider before choosing a pet, be it cat, dog, rabbit, snake, or mouse.

There are many things to think about when choosing a dog. There are so many breeds with so many specific traits, personalities and medical concerns. Even though the Labrador Retriever has been the AKC’s #1 registered dog for 20 years, there is no one perfect dog breed for everyone. It’s like they say about wine, the best wine is the one YOU like best. The best breed of dog is the one YOU like best. If you are not sure what breed you like, there are many places you can go to gather more information. Of course the internet can help, there are a lot of websites that will ask you questions and recommend breeds. I’m not sure how helpful they are though, all three I tried out recommended very rare and expensive purebred dogs. So maybe a place to start, but you need to interact with the actual dogs to get an idea what you might like. If you are hoping to get a purebred dog, finding a local dog show is a great option. The people exhibiting their dogs are enthusiastic about their breed and will usually be happy to talk to you and might even be able to get you in touch with a breeder if you decide you want a puppy of that breed. Another great option is adoption through one of the many excellent pet adoption agencies in the area. Many will take the time to let you get acquainted with the dog and they will help you make a good decision if the dog’s personality and needs will meet your lifestyle. I personally like the AKC breed descriptions; they are on the AKC website. You can look at activity requirements, size of dog, exercise and grooming requirements.

Choosing a cat can be a little easier as most common cats are not purebred and known as domestic short, medium or long haired cats. Of course you can choose a purebred, Persian and Siamese are two of the most popular breeds, but again, look into the specifics of that breed so you are well informed. Cats seem so self-sufficient and are better suited for someone with a busy lifestyle who would still like a pet companion. Cats all require good quality food and water, exercise/activity, grooming and regular veterinary visits. Over the past few years, cat visits to the vet are decreasing. This is unfortunate, because we can treat so many of the common cat diseases better in the early stages of the disease. One of the best places to get a cat is from an adoption agency, much of the initial health care is already done, and you get free exam at your regular veterinarian.

Special considerations are necessary when thinking about adopting exotic pets. Reptiles and birds are advanced pets and have very specific husbandry (housing, feeding and handling) requirements. A great deal of research is necessary to decide if and what exotic pet might be the right one for you. Additionally, reptiles and birds can carry bacteria that cause illness in people, so there are some health concerns for their owners.

Small mammals like rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters can be great pets,. Having a rabbit roaming free in the house was very popular a few years ago, in fact there is the House Rabbit Society based in Redmond that is a great source of information for having rabbits as pets. I personally love guinea pigs; they live longer than many of the other small mammals, have a great variety of color and hair coats and make nice noises when they are happy. Guinea pigs do have specific requirements for Vitamin C and can be very sensitive to antibiotics. Many people love their pet rats, hamsters and mice.

In the scope of an article I cannot address everything that should be considered, but hope I gave you at least some food for thought if and when you decide to add another pet to your household. As usual, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or ideas for an upcoming article. I can be reached at mcaviness@wildernessvet.com. Remember to visit our website, www.wildernessvet.com and our Facebook page.

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Maple Valley, WA

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