Having a pet can be one of the greatest joys of life; after all, who would not want something that offers unconditional love, companionship and often an unbiased shoulder to cry on?
Before you run out and purchase your new companion though, there are a few things you should take into account.
With such a wide variety of animals that can become pets: from dogs to cats, birds to fish, rabbits to guinea pigs, horses, mice and the more unusual like snakes and spiders the choice is only limited by your ability to meet each animal's requirements .
The first thing you need to do is take your surroundings and lifestyle into account. Depending on where you live and how much time you have to offer your pet will go a long way to deciding what type of pet you should get. If you do not have a lot of room or keep irregular hours sometimes you should look into a smaller animal: fish, mice or others that do not require as much of your time. If you have a large home or backyard then maybe you can handle a dog or cat etc.
You also need to know who is going to be the primary care giver to your animal, while we all love the idea of watching our children grow up with their dogs, we need to remember that for the most part, you as the parent, will be the person most likely in charge of your pet's welfare. Whoever is chosen as the primary carer will need to be willing to offer the time and requirements needed for the chosen pet.
Money is also a major factor when it comes to deciding what type of pet you are willing to introduce into your family. Not only will the initial purchase of the animal probably cost a certain amount depending on what type of animal, whether it's a pure breed or not, along with other initial costs, you will also need to take into account the food, vet bills (such things as vaccinations, worm tablets, flea treatments etc) any toys or other requirements, if it needs certain training or has other specialized equipment or needs, along with any other odd expenses that might arise.
If you're planning on holidays you will also need to take your pet into account. If you can not take it with you, is there somewhere you can send your pet to receive the care it needs while you are away, or do you have a friend or family member that is willing to come to your home to make sure the pet is fed and exercised etc.?
Once you've taken the above factors into consideration and started to narrow down what type of pet you would like, always do some more research: try to find out exactly what type of needs your pet will have (and while this is particularly important if you're deciding on something a little more exotic it's just as necessary even when considering the more usual pet like a dog or cat etc.) make sure you know where you can get any toys or other equipment (aquariums, specialized food etc) in case you need something in an emergency. If you have young children, make sure the chosen pet is suitable for them: if a dog – will it be able to handle a bit of rough and tumble etc?
These are just a few tips to help you on your way to choosing a pet. No matter what animal you decide to get, know that having a pet is a wonderful and often long-time experience that will provide you with many hours of fun and companionship.