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December 5, 2019

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Pick the right pet for your lifestyle

Dog in car

Average lifespan

Dog: 10-13 years

Cat: 15 years

Bird: 5-60 years

Snake: 9 years

Turtle: 50 years

Frog: 10-12 years

Goldfish: 30 years

Other fish: 2-15 years

Hamster: 2-3 years

Guinea pig: 4-5 years

Chinchilla: 10 years

Ferret: 7-10 years

Rabbit: 9 years

Horse: 25-30 years

Estimated annual cost

Dog: $965-$5,969

Cat: $780

Bird: $575

Fish: $300

Reptile: $490-$900

Hamster: $440

Ferret: $730

Rabbit: $515

Horse: $11,790

Source: Forbes

Choosing the right pet can be tough. There are many factors to consider when bringing an animal into your home, and a pet purchase or adoption shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Buying a pet on impulse is never a good idea, and getting an animal just because it’s cute can have repercussions if you don’t have the means to care properly for it.

So before heading to the shelter or pet store, do the necessary research so you bring home the right furry, feathery or scaled companion.

Have you decided to get a pet? As yourself these questions first:

Where do you live

Your living environment can be one of the biggest determining factors in selecting a pet.

• If you have a large house with a spacious back yard, you have the room needed to care for energetic dog breeds such as border collies and English shepherds.

• If you live in a small apartment, maybe a cat or aquarium-dwelling critter is more suitable.

• If you have a surplus of land, you can entertain the idea of farm animals such as horses and goats, if zoning permits them.

Other questions to keep in mind:

• Does your landlord allow pets?

• Does he or she charge additional fees for keeping them?

• Does your building or neighborhood prohibit certain types of animals or breeds? Many communities, for example, don’t allow pit bulls or other bully breeds.

CONSIDER THIS: Research breeds — just because you live in a small apartment doesn’t mean you are barred from dog ownership. Some breeds can thrive in an apartment as long as they go on walks regularly. Surprisingly enough, Great Danes are one of the best breeds for small living quarters. They spend most of their day lounging and can flourish without much space.

How much money am I willing to spend?

There is much more to consider when it comes to pet expenses than simply asking, “How much is that doggie in the window?”

• If you are looking for a low-budget pet, fish may be the way to go. While initial setup costs can be expensive depending on the size of a tank you want, most fish can be fed for less than $30 a year. Expensive tropical fish such as the Neptune grouper or golden basslet can cost thousands to buy, but pet stores also sell many fish for less than $5 each.

Other options:

• Dogs: Average one-time costs for a dog, including spaying or neutering, emergency vet care and a crate, typically run about $2,100, according to the American Kennel Club. Annual upkeep, including food, grooming and other regular expenses, averages about $2,500.

• Cats: They typically cost much less than dogs but still require cat litter, food and medical care.

• Reptiles: Reptiles can range in price. Some frogs cost less than $10, while certain species of snakes are worth thousands. However, some reptiles have expensive taste in food. Larger snakes, for example, eat mice, which can get pricey over time.

Why do I want a pet?

• If you want companionship ... intelligent animals such as dogs and cats are your best bet.

• If you want an animal to cuddle that isn’t as demanding ... guinea pigs or ferrets are great substitutes. Both are friendly but require less space than a cat or dog. Smaller rodents such as hamsters, mice, rats and gerbils aren’t as affectionate but are much cheaper and easier to take care of. Cages can get smelly, but gerbils are the least odorous of the bunch.

• If you want to own a creature that is pretty or interesting ... also known as observational pets, they aren't known to return affection but can liven up a room.

— Fish can be aesthetically pleasing, especially if placed in a colorful aquarium. A well-stocked fish tank can change the vibe of a room completely.

— Reptiles also are popular for their interesting appearance. There are thousands of varieties of snakes, turtles, lizards and frogs that come in all colors. Lavender albino ball pythons have a beautiful yellow and white pattern but can cost upwards of $40,000. Tree frogs come in a multitude of rainbow patterns and can be bought for just $30.

— Birds are another aesthetically pleasing animal; parrots and parakeets coming in countless color combinations. Most parakeets cost less than $30 but live only 5 to 9 years. Cockatoos can cost as much as $1,000 but live 40 to 60 years and will keep you company with friendly banter.

What is my lifestyle

Honestly assess whether you work long hours and your pet will be home alone for extended periods of time. Some animals handle isolation better than others.

• If you have a lot of time to give ... Dogs generally need the most attention from owners and can become depressed if left alone too often. Cats typically don’t require as much attention, but some breeds are more needy than others.

• If you aren’t sure how much time you will be able to spend with your pet ... fish or reptiles may be your ideal choice. Both are self-sufficient and easily can survive without humans.

CONSIDER THIS: Also take into account when you will spend time with your pet. If you work strange hours and sleep during the day rather than at night, consider a ferret or sugar glider. They are nocturnal and are most active at night.

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