Pets need attention, food, fresh water, exercise, and commitment from owners, unless the pet is a pet rock. Therefore, choosing the right pet means more than liking its appearance.

Dogs come in all different sizes and personalities. A boisterous, energetic breed or individual dog can scare a young child or wear out an older person. A large dog needs a place to run and romp, a space commensurate with his size. Dogs need a lot of time outdoors unless the owner doesn’t mind cleaning up the mess, even if the dog has torn paper. Dogs depend on an owner’s attention, affection, as well as being fed and watered. They are protective and good company, but they deserve the care that is due them. Some dogs get along with children, while others don’t. Be sure to research different breeds to find out which one will fit into your lifestyle.

Cats are more independent than dogs in general. They are capable of being indoors twenty-four hours a day, as long as a litter box is provided and kept clean. Not as socialized as dogs, perhaps, they still need attention. Long-haired cats require regular brushing. They all need to be ripped off and medical issues resolved. Some cats do not tolerate small children; some do. Cats need climbing opportunities, which can be provided through cat condos or perches.

Even low-maintenance pets take some care. Fish are mostly hands-off pets, but even with automatic feeders, the water needs to be changed regularly. Hamsters need a clean cage and automatic feeders and drinkers need to be refilled. No matter how little daily care a pet may need, time and energy must be made available to do what needs to be done.

Any neglected animal suffers. A pet that wants social attention but does not receive it suffers just as emotionally as one that does not receive the necessary physical consideration. In fact, a lack of human contact can cause an animal to develop physical problems. Therefore, the length of time that a potential owner would have for a pet should be taken into account when choosing one.

Also, the amount of space needed for any pet should be ample. Someone who lives in a small apartment shouldn’t have a Great Dane or a German Shepherd, for example. Larger animals need space to run and move. Two walks on a leash do not give large animals enough exercise.

Every prospective owner should study the needs of a prospective pet and examine their ability to meet those needs. The only pet that needs nothing from an owner is a pet rock, which can be placed anywhere and only needs occasional dusting.

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