girl with frenchie dog on a leash

A Beginner’s Guide To Pet Ownership

Are you ready to adopt a pet?  Let us be your guide! There are many different pets you can choose from, and all have their own unique quirks and responsibilities, so make sure to do your research before getting one so you can appropriately choose one that’s best for your lifestyle. Knowing what’s to come and preparing your home for your new pet will help guarantee you’ll have a happy, healthy, and long relationship with your pet.


  • Cats are intelligent, curious, playful, and, while it may not seem like it, most are affectionate and enjoy being with people.

  • Since cats tend to be more independent by nature, they require less attention and space than dogs and are fairly easy to care for.

  • The typical lifespan for a cat is between 14 and 20 years.

  • Almost all cats shed, which means you might have some issues if you’re allergic to cats.

  • Some cats don’t do well with children and may scratch or bite furniture or people.

  • Prepare to devote about an hour each day for scooping out the litter box, feeding, grooming, and playing.


  • Dogs typically form tight bonds with their owners and like to cuddle and play.

  • A dog’s size and temperament vary by breed. Typically the bigger the dog, the calmer the personality.

  • Their lifespan also varies by breed and can range from 8 to 16 years. A dog’s lifespan tends to get shorter the bigger the breed is.

  • Dogs need about one to two hours a day of walking, playtime, grooming, and training.

  • You’ll need enough space for a dog, as well as a fenced-in yard or a close-by dog park.

  • Dogs require a crate, bed, leash, collar, toys, and if you travel often, you’ll need to have a trusted dog sitter on the ready. Be sure you’re prepared for these added costs.

  • Like cats, most dogs also shed. If you’re allergic to dogs you can look into a hypoallergenic breed, but know that sometimes you can have allergies with even those dogs.

  • Some dogs have an odor.

  • They may bark or bite, chew belongings, dig in the yard, or have accidents in the house.

Mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils

  • These species are generally easy to care for and don’t require a lot of space.

  • They’re easily trained, playful, and friendly.

  • Most have lifespans of two years, except guinea pigs, which live longer.

  • Some rodents can be smelly, and some are only active at night.

  • You’ll need up to an hour a day for feeding, changing water and bedding, and playtime. Most require gentle handling, so younger kids require supervision.


  • Birds are easy to care for and tend to be tame and lively

  • Parakeets and cockatiels are curious and playful and like to be held

  • With the exception of canaries and finches, most birds bond with their owners

  • The lifespan varies by bird. For example, finches live 2 to 3 years, parakeets live 4 to 7 years, and parrots may live 50 years or more

  • You’ll need to devote about 30 minutes a day for cleaning, playtime, and attention. The floor under a cage can get messy, and most birds are noisy

  • Children need to be supervised around birds (lovebirds and parrots aren’t recommended for kids)

Fish and reptiles

  • Fish and reptiles are fun to watch and don’t shed or mess up your house

  • Unlike other species they cannot be cuddled or played with, and some reptiles are difficult to care for

  • Depending on the fish, they’ll live between 2 and 10 years

  • Reptiles can live between 15 and 60 years, depending on the animal

  • The aquarium needs regular attention, but most feedings are fast and easy

Bringing Your Pet Home

When preparing to bring your pet home, you’ll need to pet-proof your home and yard. Secure electrical cords and drapery cords, cover outlets, keep small items off the floor, ensure garbage cans have lids, and place locks on cabinets. Place valuable or fragile items where your pet can’t reach them, keep toilet seats closed, and check to see if plants in the home and yard are safe for pets. Obtaining a crate and choosing a safe space for your pet within your home is also important.

No matter which pet you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the many benefits of pet ownership. For example, the health benefits of having a dog include improving your mood, reducing stress, and reducing your risk of heart disease. And since dog walking is a big part of owning a dog, it’s easy to get exercise, which promotes your health by improving your muscle tone, bone health, and lung capacity.

Whether you bring home a dog, a lizard, or a gerbil, you’ll find joy in being a pet owner. Just be sure to research which pet is right for you and how to prepare your home for your new pet.