Skip to main content

How to choose the right pet for you

Picking out the right pet can seem daunting — but it doesn’t have to be! There’s a pet out there that fits each individual’s personality — it’s just a matter of figuring out what pet that is for you. Remember that wild animals should never be kept as pets. Ponder the following questions to help decide on the ideal pet for you.

How much do you want to interact with your pet?

Dog sniffing an apple held by a person

Whether you want to teach your pet tricks, play with them, or just observe them, you should consider the activity level of any one pet. Moreover, some pets crave human interaction, while others don’t like it at all. Dogs, cats, and rats all generally enjoy being handled and are social, whereas some reptiles and other small rodents (such as guinea pigs) would usually prefer to be left alone. Is an animal more active at night? Can they be held? Can they be walked on a leash? Can they be taught tricks or otherwise socialized with? Compatible personalities are another component of finding your best match. An introverted person may like rabbits, which are quiet, over a dog, for instance.

How much time do you have to spend with your pet?

Again, some animals need social interaction with humans. Your activity level is also an important factor when choosing a pet. Do you have enough time every day to spend playing with a dog? In the case of farm animals, are you available early in the morning to feed them? How often do you want to change litter or bedding? And if you are typically sedentary, can you find time in your day to exercise an animal that needs it, such as a riding horse? If you don’t have much free time, fish are probably your best bet for a pet, as they generally only have to be fed once a day and can’t socialize.

Are you squeamish about feeding live or killed animals to an animal?

A number of animals, especially amphibians and reptiles, eat insects and rodents. While insects are usually served alive and rodents are served dead, the opposite may also be true. If you’re not willing to feed whole animals as food, then you should stay away from amphibian and reptilian pets. Instead, you might want to go for an herbivorous pet — many rodents are herbivores. If you are comfortable with feeding meat to your pet, you should also know that cats and dogs can eat cooked meats.

What is your budget for a pet and supplies?

Cat in white litter box
Thorsten Nilson/EyeEm/Getty Images

You can get a pet from the shelter for a low price or sometimes even for free, or you can spend thousands on a purebred animal. Large animals, like cows, tend to cost a bit no matter their breed. Besides the cost of the pet, you need to factor in costs associated with their enclosure and diet. Some reptiles require a heat lamp and substrate that should be changed regularly, as well as fresh food. Going along with supplies, do you have the resources available to keep a pet in an enclosed yard or a barn? Also, keep in mind any potential costs associated with pet sitting in case you take a vacation and don’t take your pet with you.

Who will be caring for the animal?

Remember to consider who will take on the role of primary caregiver when you are in the midst of choosing the right family pet. Are you, as a parent, willing to pick up the slack if your child doesn’t fulfill their duties? Pets can be a fantastic lesson in responsibility, but they can also be a frustration for parents if their child isn’t fully invested in the animal. Dogs must go on walks, particularly if you don’t have an enclosed yard. Horses are usually turned out in a pasture during the day, as are other farm animals. Don’t expect too much from children in terms of taking care of pets when starting out.

Choosing a pet for you or your family can be an exciting experience! Just ensure that you contemplate your needs and those of an animal. Not every animal is right for every person, and vice versa. But with time and diligence, you’ll be able to decide on the perfect animal for you.

Editors' Recommendations

Good, better, best: Space heaters that are safe if you have pets
Safest options for homes with dogs or cats
A tabby cat stretched out on a faux fur rug near a space heater.

Having an additional heat source in your home can make all the difference between staying toasty warm during the winter and feeling like you live in a walk-in refrigerator, but not all space heaters are created equally. Whether you share your home with a canine companion, a cuddly kitten, or both, safety is paramount when picking the right space heater for your home. Choosing space heaters for pets requires some research, but we've got you covered.

Let's look closer at our top picks for the best pet-friendly space heaters on the market. 

Read more
Why do you often find your dog with their tongue out? Here’s what vets say about the ‘blep’
This behavior may be cute, but what does it really mean?
A German shepherd puppy sticks out their tongue

There's nothing cuter than a "blep" but what does it mean? Whether you first heard the term blep on the internet (it is meme-worthy, after all), or are learning of it for the first time, you're in for a treat. Bleps are positively adorable. The term started gaining online traction in the late 2010s, though it's no less popular today. The common canine behavior it's based on, however, is a habit as old as time: sticking out a tongue. Yep, a dog with its tongue out is enough to break the internet!

It's pretty dang cute, after all, but it's not always easy to figure out why a dog's tongue is sticking out. Don't worry though, pet parents — this is a great place to start. This is everything you need to know about bleps and what they mean.

Read more
Is getting a puppy for Christmas a good idea? You can’t return them like an ugly sweater
Here's what to know before you bring a puppy home this holiday
Woman snuggling Samoyed puppy in front of the Christmas tree

Of all the viral holiday videos to make their way around the internet, there’s nothing quite as heartwarming (and adorable) as seeing a new puppy jump out of a box on Christmas morning. It’s easy to see why many families feel inspired to get this surprise present for their loved ones and show up with a new furry friend during the holidays!
Getting a puppy for Christmas can seem like a special, even life-changing gift, but the cleaning and work accompanying them aren’t as cute. Many families -- especially kids -- aren’t prepared for the effort and expense of raising a dog, which unfortunately leads to pets being dropped off at shelters not long after the holidays.
If you’re considering gifting a puppy to your family this Christmas, make sure you do the research and consider the obligations that pet parenthood entails. Here’s what to know.

Why getting a puppy for Christmas isn’t always smart
Although raising a dog can be a rewarding and joyful experience, it also requires work, patience, and responsibility. Is your family ready to take this on? Are you willing to pick up the slack if they prove that they're not?
According to the shelter staff at the Marion County Humane Society in West Virginia, shelter admissions tend to increase every year at the end of January. Unfortunately, many of these pets are Christmas gifts that families weren’t ready to care for.
“People that got a new puppy or a new kitten, and they expect their young child to take care of them,” one shelter tech told WDTV. "Of course, if the kid doesn't do it, the parent doesn't want to take care of them, either.”
A lack of research is also a huge factor in unsuccessful pet adoptions. Not all dog breeds will do well in all homes, so consulting an expert or doing some reading is vital before taking action. And remember — a cute, tiny puppy can still grow into a huge, rambunctious dog (depending on their breed), so you’ll need to be prepared.
It’s also important to consider where you’re adopting your new pup from because not all breeders are reliable. As awful as it is to acknowledge, some people sell sick and injured dogs for a quick buck. Needless to say, a dog with health concerns can be as loving of a companion as any other — after treatment, of course — but you have a right to be informed about the condition of your new friend, including information about the puppy's parents.
Shelters can help you get to know your pup a bit before bringing him home, but rescued dogs will still need some extra time to adjust to their surroundings. The honeymoon phase may not be as happy-go-lucky as you expect, especially if there has been any past trauma for your pup. If this is the case, don't be upset if your new dog isn't matching the holly jolly spirit!

Read more