Owning a pet can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. If you have never had a pet before, you may not be sure if it is the right move for you. Even if you have decided to add a new companion to your home, you may not be sure what type of pet to get. Use this handy guide to help you decide before you adopt or buy a new pet for your household.

Pet Allergies


You don’t have to rule out having pets altogether just because you have allergies. Talk to your primary care physician or an allergist before you choose a pet. Depending on the severity of your allergies, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication or allergy shots that can help you combat your symptoms. Remember that there is no such thing as an allergy-proof cat or dog. Many people believe that they are allergic to pet fur, but it is the pet dander and saliva that cause reactions. If you have severe allergies, you may want to consider fish as an alternative to a cat or a dog.


Local Laws


Some cities have ordinances against owning certain animal breeds. More and more cities are outlawing pit bulls and other vicious breeds. Even if your city allows these types of dogs, you may not be in the clear. Apartment buildings and owners’ associations may have rules in that also preclude these breeds. There also may be regulations on the size of pets that are allowed. Many landlords require a letter from a veterinarian verifying the size and breed of the dog. Be sure to research ahead of time so you don’t have to give up your pet.


Kids and Pets


Kids love animals, but not all animals love kids. Some breeds of animals are much more kid-friendly that others. Beagles, Golden Retrievers, and Pointers are good dog breeds for families. Persian and Maine Coon cats are great with kids, while Siamese cats are not. Even if you don’t have children now, you should consider compatibility if you think that you may want a family in the future.


Your Schedule


Owning any pet will require a commitment of time on your part, but some pets require more than others. If you find yourself working late, a cat or a low-maintenance dog breed might be best for you. Households with at least one person home during the day will work well with puppies and kittens, or breeds that require more maintenance. Animals that don’t get the attention that they need are harder to care for. They can become depressed and difficult to train.


If you do decide to take in a pet, be sure to spend time with the animal at the shelter or adoption agency first. You will feel a bond with the pet that is right for you. Be sure to ask questions about the animal. Chances are, the staff will be able to help you get a feel for the animal’s likes and dislikes, and for how much attention and care it requires. A well-informed pet owner is a happy pet-owner.