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Choosing a Pet | How to Pick the Right Pet for your Family

by Burns Team Writer

Making a decision about what pet is best for you can seem like a daunting prospect. Perhaps you can’t decide between a cat or a dog, or maybe you’re thinking about choosing a pet for a child. Whatever your reason for wanting a pet, it’s a lot easier when you have all of the information to hand. This is where we can help.

The Benefits of Owning a Pet

There are many advantages to pet ownership. Sharing life with an animal companion could have a positive effect on our wellbeing. They can give us a “constant” in an everchanging world and a sense of purpose. Pets make us smile with their individual quirks and fill us with contentment with their affection. There is nothing quite as fulfilling as making a bond with an animal that doesn’t speak your language, but that trusts you completely – whether that is a dog, small furry or even a stick insect!

Why is it important to choose the right pet?

Given all of the advantages owning a pet can bring, it’s no surprise that a recent PDSA study discovered that 51% of adults in the UK own one. Shockingly though, 25% of pet owners admitted that they hadn’t done any research before choosing their pet!

It’s easy to romanticise the idea of having a pet and what it will be like, however they are all unique and will require tailored care, which is why research is so important. A good starting point if you’re wondering how to choose a pet is to identify why you want one.

• Do you want an animal that’ll encourage you to be more active and to get outdoors more?
• Do you need some company at home, such a lap warmer while you’re watching the telly?
• Are you fascinated by unusual animals and want the opportunity to observe and learn about them in more depth?

Welfare Considerations When Picking a Pet

Once you’ve thought about your motivations for choosing a pet, it’ll be easier to decide what sort of pet will suit your lifestyle. As well as considering what a pet can bring to your life, contemplate what you can offer them and if you can continue to meet their needs in the future. There are 5 main welfare needs that you must consider for any animal: health, behaviour, companionship, diet and environment. These needs should be the focus of your research before you decide what pet is best for you.

The 5 Pet Welfare Needs:

  • Health

Health is an important consideration when choosing a pet. Can you meet their nutritional needs to stay physically healthy? Do you have the knowledge to recognise when they’re unwell or if something isn’t right? Will they need regular preventative treatments such as parasite control products? Can you afford their veterinary care and pet insurance?

  •  Behaviour

Behaviour is another important factor when you think about what pet is best for you and your family. What behaviours are normal? Can you provide an enriched and suitably sized environment where they can exhibit natural behaviours? Are they most active in the day or at night?

  • Companionship

If you’re motivated to choose an animal purely for companionship reasons, it’s probably important to understand a little more about their habits. Are they a solitary or social species? How much interaction and time will they need with you? If they require a companion of their own species, can you afford that?

  • Diet

You might not think diet is an important consideration, but diet plays a big part in the life and welfare of an animal. Could you feed a whole mouse to your pet snake? Did you know that common problems in pets can be related to diet? When picking a pet, consider what their diet consists of, and how easily their food is sourced and how much it would cost to feed them.

  • Environment

Another important thing to consider about pet ownership is what sort of housing they’ll need and how much space will that take up. Do they need specific living conditions such as temperature, humidity, UV levels, etc? Will their environment need adjusting as they grow and age?

Other Things to Consider about Pet Ownership

As well as considering if you can meet the animal’s needs, have a think about who will look after them when you go away on holiday, and what would happen if your circumstances change. Inviting a pet to join your family is an exciting time, but ultimately, it’s a life changing decision that will impact your time and lifestyle. Owning a pet is a long-term commitment and shouldn’t be entered into lightly, but if you do your research and find a suitable match for your circumstances you will be rewarded with a unique bond that’s unlike any other!

Adopt don’t shop! If you’re thinking about getting a pet, why not consider adopting from a rescue centre or shelter? Burns supports many shelters with donations and yummy food every year. Find out more by pawing over to our sponsorship page.