For many of us, pets are like potato chips. We can’t have just one. When that yearning hits, it is a force to reckon with. Others of us simply cross paths with a pet up for adoption and know it was meant to be. My last several pets that I got through adoption were just so. I remember thinking, “Darn it, I guess I have another pet.” As you might guess, we veterinarians are presented with more opportunities to expand our animal families than most folks. I have long claimed that vets get to claim a higher quota of critters before being considered crazy.

With the economy as it is a lot of families find themselves not only taking in their adult children but blending pets, too! It’s not uncommon for my veterinary clients to come in with their “grand dog”. Even if it is crowded, people somehow make the best of a given situation. Sometimes people talk big like it really isn’t their pet, but if their offspring ever decided to take the pet away from them there might be custody battles!

Adult or Baby

If you are actively contemplating a new pet, you should take your lifestyle and common features of various breeds into account. As a middle-aged woman, I know my lifestyle. I love outdoor activity and walking, but it would be highly improbable for me to go running with a dog. Adopting a high energy goof-ball hound puppy with energy to burn would be a bad choice for my home. A wild and crazy puppy might do better on a farm where it might run for hours in a fenced acre. A middle aged or older pet would suit my lifestyle better, and it would likely only need a 20 to 30 minute walk each day.

Adopting an older pet has advantages. Many people fear that if they get a “recycled” pet there may be some emotional scars or bad habits ingrained in the pet. That may be true in some cases, but many animals or strays that come from humble beginnings may be grateful for the plush comfortable lifestyle they will likely get in your home. Personally, I am drawn toward a relaxed and quiet pet rather than the fireball that constantly needs my attention. When considering adoption for a puppy or kitten you will get less of a glimpse of the pet’s personality than if you were to adopt an adult pet.

How Much Time Are You Able to Spend With Your New Pet?

If you spend a lot of time away from the home, a cat may be your perfect pet. Yes, there may be kitty litter to clean, but there is not the rush home at lunch to let the dog out. One vet friend of mine scoffed at having a cat. “I will never have a pet who poops in my house!”, she exclaimed. Shortly thereafter she adopted a cute little fluffy white dog that constantly pooped in her house. Perhaps you are lucky enough to take your dog to work. If so, choose a dog that suits the office environment.

Your Home Situation

Do you live in an 800 square foot condo? Perhaps a Great Dane might not be your best choice! Do you have children? Research a breed’s temperament before getting a pet up for adoption. For example, it says right on page one of the Golden retriever handbook (the one that I’m certain all golden retriever pups must read before being weaned) that they are to be amongst the nicest dogs on Earth.

Do You Have Other Pets?

Consider how your other pets may react to a new pet. If you have an 18 year old cat, the odds are low that she would take a liking to a brand new puppy! If you have a pet with special dietary needs (such as a diabetic pet), life may be more difficult if you introduce a new pet. You may have to be a “food cop”.

Pets are the family that we choose. We are often closer to our animal family members than our human family members. Spend time contemplating your next addition. Wandering through the mall and seeing a cute puppy in the window may spark ideas, but sincere thought and research into breeds that suit your lifestyle is strongly advised.

NOTE: Consult your Veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.