- Live in a small apartment? You probably want to skip the golden retriever and other dog breeds that need room to run around.
Think twice about getting a squawking bird that might disturb the neighbors.
Double-check your lease agreement for restrictions on pets--some have weight limits that might help steer you toward a pet that won't cause problems for you where you live.
Likewise, if you live in a subdivision and want to keep chickens, goats or a pot-bellied pig, you'll want to check your neighborhood association's covenants.
Desperately want a horse and think you have the space? Check your town's ordinances, or find a place to board a horse before you bring it home. Need a new home? Click here!
- The price you pay for your pet is just the beginning. You must also provide your pet with any necessary equipment--from cages to leashes, brushes to toys. Of course, your pet will need food each and every day, and, depending on the pet, there's frequent bedding or litter changes, grooming, and vet bills to consider.
What's more, unless your mother lives nearby and can watch Fluffy when you're out of town, you'll have to consider boarding or pet-sitting fees as well for when you travel. Find pet boarding services, pet sitters, and pet stores and supplies here.
- Do you work 12-hour days? Travel frequently? Have your hands full with a new job or new baby? Then you probably want to stay away from a high-need pet like a dog right now. Birds, hamsters, fish and reptiles can all bring wonder and joy into your life without demanding much time from you.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a pet to romp with the kids or tool around town with you, a dog may be just what you or your family needs. Dogs are great ways for meeting new people, getting more exercise, and teaching children about responsibility (although, who are we kidding, your 8-year-old is not going to be the one who walks the dog on those cold, rainy nights).
Want the fur but not the work? Cats are notoriously independent, don't need to be walked, and can even be left alone for a couple days with an automatic feeder.
Okay, so you've done a reality check on your lifestyle. Now, it's time to find that pet of your dreams.
- Ask around. Everyone has pet stories and can give you a first-hand-view of life with tropical fish or a fox terrier. If you find the neighborhood snake or cockatiel expert, he or she can probably recommend the best place to get a reptile or bird of your own, or click here for recommendations.
- Shop around. Find a breeder you can trust if you want a pure breed dog, or consider a pure breed rescue dog. Many perfectly lovely dogs are given up by their owners because they move, get divorced, or have a change in lifestyle where they find they no longer have the time or money to care for the dog. Another benefit? Older dogs are housebroken and won't chew up your furniture. Don't care about pure breeds? Lots of people say the best dog they ever had was the mutt they got from the pound.Save a life, and you might find you get the best dog of your life. Find a breeder here.
Once you take the plunge into pet ownership, find out what kind of medical care your pet needs and stay on top of vaccinations and other veterinarian visits. Find vets here.
Take lots of pictures--puppies and kittens grow up fast. Find pet photographers and artists here.
Finally, remember to take the time to enjoy your pet each and every day. (Okay, you don't have to enjoy the cold, rainy-night dog walks. Find dogwalkers here.