Choosing Your New Pet
Select your new dog with your lifestyle and living situation in mind. In addition to your new family member’s personality, consider its temperament, size, and coat as well. Some breeds have traits that may be objectionable in certain circumstances, such as hyper excitability or a tendency to bark. Your veterinarian is a valuable resource and should be consulted before you acquire a pet of any kind.
There are two types of dogs–purebred and mixed breed. The 124 recognized breeds are grouped into seven categories: hound, working, terrier, toy, sporting, non-sporting, and herding. There are thousands of mixed-breed combinations. Each purebred or mixed-breed dog has a unique personality. Dogs originally bred for a specific purpose tend to retain these characteristics. These dogs may require additional training and patience. Selecting a specific breed does not guarantee a particular behavior, but choosing offspring from animals with desirable temperaments does increase one’s chances of getting the best pet. Mixed breeds can be as beautiful, intelligent, loving, and companionable as purebreds.Veterinarians, breed-specific books (usually available at libraries and pet stores), and dog shows are excellent sources of information about individual breed characteristics and needs.
Selecting a Puppy
A new puppy can be a terrific addition to a family, but with the fun comes responsibility for its care and well-being. Consider and prepare for your puppy’s needs before you adopt! Pick a puppy that is active, friendly, and inquisitive. Avoid the one that appears to be afraid of everything or snarls at people. If you select a timid puppy because you feel sorry for it, be aware that such puppies may be fearful throughout their life. Fearful dogs sometimes become aggressive and bite. Balance is the key, so look for a well-rounded animal. The temperament of a puppy’s relatives may be an indication of its future behavior. If you are getting a puppy from a breeder, ask to see the dog’s parents. Request the names of owners of related dogs. Contact these owners for information about their dogs’ behavior and health patterns. A dog’s training is an important factor in determining future behavior. Healthy puppies learn quickly. Frequent contact with people early in the puppy’s life enhances its adjustment to the human family. Six to 10 weeks is considered an ideal age to acquaint a puppy with its new home. Do not engage in rough games with your new puppy; this may encourage aggression. If you decide on a puppy be prepared for several months of housebreaking and initial medical expenses.
Selecting an Older Dog
You don’t have to get a puppy to train it the way you like. You can teach an old dog new tricks. For some families, the best choice is an older housebroken dog whose temperament, size, coat care, and behavior are established. When adopting or buying an adult dog, inquire about its background. Ask shelter personnel or the breeder what they have observed about its personality. Some animals are given to shelters because of behavioral problems. Many good dogs, however, are abandoned simply because their owners can no longer care for them or no longer want them. Sometimes, breeders will place an older dog in a home when its show or breeding days are over. Many people when moving give dogs away. These animals often make excellent companions. Providing a homeless animal with love and security can win you a loyal companion.
Friend or Protector?
Most dogs, even tiny ones, bark when strangers approach their home or yard. This bark is usually enough to deter intruders. A pet should not be trained as an attack dog. Attack-trained dogs require special handling and knowledge to prevent accidental injury to people, including members of your own family.
Working couples and retirees, as well as other families and singles, have discovered that cats are wonderful companions. Their entertaining antics and affectionate behaviors have endeared these animals to millions of owners. Cats come in all colors and with all kinds of coats–short, long, or curly. Some cats are quiet and appear somewhat independent, but all cats need and want attention. Also, most cats can adapt to a variety of environments. As with dogs, there are purebreds and mixed breeds.
Each cat breed has certain characteristics. Although every cat is unique, certain breeds tend to be more inquisitive, lively, placid, vocal, or gentle than others. Veterinarians, cat-fancy clubs, pet stores, and cat shows are good sources of information about the personalities of various breeds. When selecting a kitten, use similar criteria as selecting a dog. The kitten should be neither too shy nor too aggressive. A healthy kitten actively seeks affection from people. Cats are easily housebroken and fastidious, and they don’t have to be walked. For these reasons, many apartment owners and condominium associations allow their residents to keep cats.
A cat’s air of independence does not mean that it can take care of all its own needs. Cat owners have important responsibilities such providing food and water, social interaction, and changing the litter box regularly. Remember, cats have only one life, not nine! To prevent life-threatening diseases and enjoy a healthy life, your cat will require regular veterinary medical checkups and vaccinations as well. Ask your veterinarian about the common signs of feline illness.
The AVMA recognizes that ferrets (mustela putorius furo) are being kept as pets and for research purposes. In those states or areas where ferret ownership is legal, the AVMA recommends responsible ferret ownership. This includes knowledge pertaining to ferret husbandry (care, nutrition, housing, and the species’ habits). It is also recommended that no ferret be left unattended with any individual incapable of removing himself or herself from the ferret. It is also important that your ferret have proper care by a veterinarian legally authorized to practice veterinary medicine. This includes preventive medicine and medical or surgical care.
If You Choose a Pet Ferret
The average life span of a ferret is 8 to 10 years. When fully grown, females weigh about one and a half to two pounds while males are generally about twice the weight of females. A female’s length is about twelve inches nose to tail and the males are about sixteen inches. Ferrets come in many color variations. Most are shades of brown, grey and black with the mask, feet and tails generally being the darkest in color. “Albino” ferrets are white with pink eyes.
Rabbits make wonderful pets. They are fluffy and soft, respond well to handling, and can learn to use a litter box. There are even different breeds of rabbit! For example, some have straight ears, some have floppy ears, some are normal size, and some are dwarf sized. Rabbits can live for 5 – 10 years. Rabbits have very strong hind legs and sharp claws. They also have a very light skeleton. If you handle your bunny improperly, he may kick his legs so hard that he breaks his back! When you carry him, always support his rear end. If he struggles, put him down, until he is quiet.
If You Choose a Pet Rabbit
You should make sure that you are purchasing a healthy bunny. It is best to select a young bunny. He should have clear eyes and a nose free of any mucus. The bunny should be curious and friendly. Check to see the bunny has been spayed or neutered. Most are breeders and pet stores do not alter their pets. You will want to have your new friend spayed or neutered between 4 and 6 months age. An altered pet will reduce the risk of that famous bunny reproduction and will prevent certain health and behavioral problems. Bunnies do not require vaccines. They do need annual check ups and fecal tests for parasites.
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