5 Best Tips for Choosing the Right Family Pet

Thinking about getting a pet but not sure which one is right for you? I’ve had cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish and birds throughout my adult life. I think that makes me pretty qualified to help you decide on the right family pet for you!


Right now, I have three dogs, three cats, two guinea pigs and an African grey parrot. Years ago, I also had an iguana, parakeets, lovebirds, fish and a hamster. My boyfriend has a ball python and I have an aunt who had a goose for a pet. Throughout my family, we’ve also had bunnies, turtles and several other types of birds. We’ve pretty much had them all! My grandfather really wanted a pet ostrich, but my grandmother drew the line at that!

Best tips for choosing the right family pet

  • Consider the ages of your children. When you’re up all night changing diapers, the last thing you want to do is chase after a puppy. While it’s great growing up with a dog-my mom got my childhood dog when I was 6 months old-raising a puppy alongside a baby is quite the time commitment! Young children also really don’t understand how to be gentle with fragile pets, so getting your toddler a hamster may also not be the best idea.
  • Think about your expectations. Do you want a pet that cuddles with you after a long day? Go with a dog. Prefer a more independent pet that will curl up with your teenagers? Cats make great family pet options in that case. Hamsters and guinea pigs are great for teaching older kids how to care for pets. If you just want a pet that you can look at but not touch, fish work too!
  • Be wary of allergies. Allergies to cats and dogs are fairly common, but you can also be allergic to other types of pets. Before you invest in a family pet and all the gear that comes along with one, spend time holding your potential choice to make sure there are no allergy issues. Nothing is more heartbreaking than having to give up a new family pet because you can’t stop sneezing.
  • Take a pet for a test spin. Before you commit to any choice, it’s a good idea to visit a friend or family member with pets and see how your family interacts with them. Maybe you always thought you wanted a small dog, but discover that your great aunt’s Chihuahua’s bark drives you batty. Perhaps you’re thinking a parrot would be cool until you hear just how loud they can squawk! Make sure you’re ready to love your cat or dog before you get one! 
  • Research overall costs. When I got my guinea pigs, I assumed that they would be super inexpensive animals. I mean, how much could shredded paper bedding, pellets and hay cost per month? Well, I had no idea they also need fresh fruit every day, or that they pooped like once a second. My “inexpensive” idea for a pet now costs me more than my dogs and cats combined! I also spend quite a bit on the best cat food and dog food every month because I want my animals to have the best possible nutrition. 

The most important tip for choosing the right family pet is to make sure that you’re positive about your choice. It’s not fair to give an animal a home, and then change your mind. It’s traumatic to both your family and the animal. Be sure that you’re ready to make the commitment. Cats and dogs can live longer than ten years. I have a cat that is almost 18 and two dogs that will be 13 this year. Parrots live even longer. My African grey will outlive me! Have a family pet is a long commitment. If you don’t think you can care for them that long, please just get a fish.

31 thoughts on “5 Best Tips for Choosing the Right Family Pet”

  1. Great tips – I love the idea of a test spin – maybe hubby and I need that. He wants a dog but I happy with just our cat, and do not want to look after and clean up after another pet. He swears he will do all that, but I know him and once the dog got here it would be my responsibility. A test spin might be beneficial for us.

  2. I’m glad we did our research because we found a breed that really worked with our family. It’s a big decision and not something we took lightly.

  3. I love the idea of taking the pet for a “test spin”. This would have helped when my sister got a cat for her and her daughter. She would have realized that her daughter grew tired of the cat quickly and lost interest.

  4. We have a Belgion Melionua and part German Shepard! We got him at the dog kennel where they find strayed and or people give them up Orr turn them in! Well my husband and I don’t know what we really had till my son showed up and said where did you get him? I said … He said do you know what you have I said ya a German Shepard mix! He said no mom he is a Belgion Melionua!! Mix! And he is 6 months old so if you don’t show him who is boss he will walk all over you! He showed me all I needed to do and my husband!! I played with hi ears eyes and put my hand in his mouth! So when grandkids came over he would not bight! Our dog has been great with babies! Grandkids, people and great watch dog! He knows when someone is not good or bad!! He has only gone after one person I was totally surprised! I really was not sure what he would do if I was in danger! Or other family members! My daughter in law grandson and I where in the house and get this we had UPS people all the time Fedex People all the time cause we ran a business out of our home never did he bother anyone!! He was 5 yrs old a FedEx guy came to the door rang the doorbell I said it’s okay it’s just the FedEx guy he stays right by my leg I said he name and sai honey it’s okay! He growls, showing his teeth! I thought what is up with you!i open the door he went to wards the man as I bent down to get the envelope! I said … Get back here! He was full on guard! The man cam forward said he looks like a puppy! I said we have had him awhile but I think you better go! He said wel I was just trying to help you pick it up I said I got it thank you my dog was getting more aggressive! Never seen him like that in my whole life! Mary Ellen said Chris theirs something not right! And he knows it! I have never seen him like that ? He made sure the man backed up all the way to his truck! He was going to mazes him I said if you do my daughter in the house has a gun I think you better leave! Cause he has never acted like this in hi whole live so that tells me something! He got in his van and left! He has never done it again till one other time we where gone we think someone tried to break in and you could see where he had gone from window to window cause some of the plinks where gone! LOL I did not get after him cause we looked around out side and found a flower pot broken and a tall Srong Iron pretty thing that went into the ground like a u shape even my husband could not bend it! It was like someone was trying to get in saw my dog and ran broke the pot and ran into the iron rod thing and totally bent it! Good family dog with training!

  5. These are great tips, we will be getting a dog when we move but will not now because our house is too small and it’s not fair to the dog. We do have a indoor bunny right now. She lives in the whole house and uses a litter box.

  6. I wish more people would take having a pet more serious…I have heard to many stories lately of pets neglected or taken to shelters. I researched alot before I got my 2 little dogs and they are family!

  7. We already had a cat when our son was born. She is older and he just turned 3. Let me just say their relationship has a long way to go lol.

  8. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    great tips, I just wish more people would think first and act later. There are so many abandoned animals, probably from people who didn’t realise the commitment, time and expense of keeping an animal.

  9. When we got our dog from the SPCA in Hamilton, one of the questions that was asked was how much do you think it will cost to take of your pet each year. Our answer was $1000, some people were shocked about the cost and didn’t realise the costs involved

  10. These are all great things to consider. We don’t have a family pet yet, but will probably start thinking about it in a few years.

  11. Lots of good things to think about here. Pets are a big responsibility. Also remember you have to find caretakers for them when you travel too!

  12. After losing my beloved ShihTzu to sepsis two years ago, I have not considered getting another family pet, although my son now keeps on asking me if we can get another dog. Still haven’t find it in my heart to ‘replace’ him, as he had been with me for a good six years. I had him even before I was married and had a son.

  13. I totally agree with everything you said up there! There are some people out there that don’t seem to realize that animals deserve love and respect and can get emotionally traumatized-just walk into a humane society where animals have been dumped! I love all animals. At the moment I have a cat who actually acts more like a dog and love her to pieces.

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