CHOOSING A PET
The health benefits of owning pets are well recognised. However, choosing the right pet for you can be confusing. Taking the time to examine the different options available will help to ensure you get a pet that works well for you and your lifestyle. Cats and dogs are the most popular choices as pets, but birds and rabbits are also very popular. When considering your pet, think about how much you are home or whether you will be taking your pet out with you regularly. What sort of environment do you have for your pet? Is there a lot of room to run around? Do you have any allergies to different animals? Having the answers to these sort of questions will make a big difference to your selection.
Owning a bird as a pet can be very rewarding. Birds come in all shapes and sizes. Smaller birds like Canaries and Budgies make for a low maintenance pet. Larger birds like Conures and Parrots are more like cats and dogs in terms of the level of care and time they demand from their owners. They spend a large proportion of time out of their cage, they are very intelligent and interact with their owners a lot. Parrots will learn a large vocabulary so be careful with what you teach them to say! Housing a bird is very important as they need to be in a cage or aviary that is comfortable for them and allows them to display their natural behaviours. The type of food you provide your bird will vary a lot depending on the bird. Seed mixes are not appropriate as a complete diet for some birds. Birds that have outdoor aviaries will need a parasite preventative and finding a local veterinary practitioner with a specific interest in birds can be more difficult.
When it comes to household pets, dogs are definitely more common than birds. Just like birds, dogs come in a wide variety of breeds which means you need to do some
research before getting a dog to determine which breed best suits your needs and your lifestyle. Large dogs will need more exercise and larger yards. Smaller dogs make great companions for those with less mobility. Food requirements will also vary depending on the breed – a Great Dane will obviously need more food than a Chihuahua. Dogs can often be very focused on their owner and will demand a lot of interaction. They also like having daily routines as it makes them more relaxed. Dogs need yearly health checks with a veterinarian as well as protection against infectious diseases and parasites. Depending on where you live and your dog’s daily activities, these needs may change and your veterinarian will be able to advise you about what is required to best protect your dog.
People often think of cats as aloof animals, but really they are just more self-reliant than a dog. They still crave a lot of interaction with their owner but it is often on their terms. Different breeds of cats will offer a variety of temperaments. Ragdolls are normally very quiet and relaxed and enjoy long periods of grooming. Turkish Van cats, on the other hand, are much more active and love to play, even in water! An important decision to make for your cat is whether it will be an inside-only cat or whether it will be allowed outside access. The Australian Veterinary Association recommends that cats are kept inside or allowed outside access but not allowed to roam freely. This helps prevent disease while also protecting our native wildlife. Your veterinarian will help you decide what protection your cat needs against infectious diseases and parasites and this will be updated during your cat’s yearly check-ups. Finally, rabbits are becoming a very popular companion pet. After cats and dogs they are the third most common four legged pet. You will need to check local ownership restrictions before getting a rabbit, for example, rabbits cannot be kept as pets in Queensland. Rabbits cope very well as indoor pets and they are very affectionate. The house will need to be rabbit proofed as they like to chew on things. Rabbits can be toilet trained quite easily but they will not arrive in a new house trained like kittens. Diet and dental health are the most important care aspects for a rabbit and your veterinarian will be able to help you with both of these. Good quality meadow or timothy hay should make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet and this will take care of their specific gut and dental needs.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet, be sure to do your research beforehand to determine what pet will best suit you and your lifestyle. Get your pet from a source that has a good reputation – word of mouth and then visiting them are the best ways to ensure this. Once you have your new pet, your veterinarian will be able to answer any questions you have about its care. Housing, food and water and disease prevention are the most common things to discuss with your vet. But don’t forget about grooming or coat care and behaviour advice. This will help to ensure your new pet is happy and healthy.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT