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Choose an Appropriate Pet as a Christmas Present

Twenty million pets are destroyed or abandoned each year. Many are sacrificed needlessly because they are incompatible with an owner's lifestyle.

The selection of a pet should be carried out thoughtfully like any long-term investment. Your daily schedule, family size and living accommodations are factors that should be considered.

How busy are you? How large is your home and yard? A small dog, cat or rabbit would be more appropriate for apartment or condominium living.

Neighbors need to be considered, too. Will building a run and keeping a large outdoor dog affect your relationship? Will neighbors tolerate a cat digging in their garden or sandbox?

A busy work schedule calls for a less demanding pet. An aquarium with tropical fish might be a good choice. Birds, cats and dogs require more attention and more training.

Consider your motives for wanting a pet BEFORE choosing. Who will be handling the pet? Will it be a companion for an older person or young children? Are you looking for protection? Do you plan to breed or show your pet? Do you want to share outdoor activities with your pet? Toy breeds of dogs would not be a wise choice for small children or long winter climates, for instance.

A pet's personality is vital to a compatible relationship. Consult with your veterinarian concerning breed-related behavior traits that might affect your pet choice.

Likewise, hair coat length, grooming requirements and appearance may influence your decision. Remember, long-coated breeds of dogs and cats will require regular hair coat care in order to prevent matting and soiling.

Consult with your veterinarian concerning health problems, cost and upkeep of various kinds of pets. A macaw, for instance, requires no yearly vaccinations but sturdy housing and medical work-ups when sick may incur considerable unforeseen expenses.

Cats and dogs, on the other hand, rely on vaccination protection against many deadly diseases. Can your pocketbook handle preventive health care for a pet?

An appropriate pet choice depends on careful introspection. Taking some time to choose will enhance a compatible, long-term relationship.

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Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association
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