Wednesday, Sep. 2nd 2015

Pet Selection Process

The Pet Selection Process

So you are thinking about getting a pet.  There are some questions you should ask yourself before committing to life-long care of another living being.

  1.  Do I really want/need a pet? If you travel frequently, have time-consuming hobbies that can’t involve a pet, have an aversion to cleaning up bodily fluids from other creatures, or don’t want to give up more than 10 minutes a day to pet care you should reconsider having a pet at all.  How much time DO you have?  Can you walk/groom/feed/play with your pet every day? Be sure to research the needs of whatever type of pet you are considering, even if it’s a hermit crab. Can you provide those needs for the life of the pet?
  2. Does everyone in my family want a pet? If you have kids, spouse, significant other, or even other pets you need to make sure they are all cool with an addition to the household.  Especially if they are expected to participate in the pet care process. 
  3. What type of pet is best for me? Maybe you want the companionship of a pet but don’t have the time to walk, train, and exercise a dog.  A cat might work.  Maybe you have allergies.  That hermit crab could be entertaining company.  Maybe you don’t have much money to spend on a pet.  A Betta fish might be just the thing.  Examine your needs and abilities carefully.  If you’ve decided on a dog or cat, the same process needs to happen regarding breed.  You may think you want a Belgian Malinois because the one you saw in the movie was really cool.  But after you find out that breed is intense, very intelligent, and can be aggressive or destructive without a good outlet for its energy you may decide a Basset Hound is more your speed. 
  4. Should I get a pure breed or mixed breed?  This is a question that can actually lead to arguments among less enlightened folk.  People who get pure bred animals are looking for particular traits or characteristics or appearances that are typical for a certain breed.  They may also be looking for more predictable trainability, life span, or health qualities.  They may have activities that certain breeds are better suited to.  Mixed breeds are less predictable even if you know for sure what breeds the parents were.  But rescuing a mixed breed from a shelter can certainly give that warm fuzzy feeling, plus cost less initially.  And mixed breeds can make great pets as well, especially if the process of discovering what type of personality they have is intriguing to you.   There is no right answer as to whether a pure or mixed breed pet is best—it’s entirely an individual decision and neither is wrong.  And if you want the best of both worlds, you can try a breed-specific rescue group.
  5. What is the best source for a pet?  In most cases, for pets other than a dog or cat, a pet store will be your answer.  Look for one that is clean, well-run, with animals that are in clean surroundings showing good levels of activity.  They should have healthy looking skin/fur/feathers, bright clear eyes, and no discharges or wounds.    For dogs and cats, your choices are usually either a shelter, breed rescue, backyard breeder, or show breeder.  How do you decide which is best?  You need to look at the cost of the pet, does the person you are getting the pet from guarantee health, will they take the pet back if it proves unsatisfactory in some way?  What health testing and guarantees do they offer?  I can pretty much guarantee the person with the box of kittens in their truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot will not offer any kind of guarantee or return policy.  If that matters to you, look elsewhere.  A good breeder will have done genetic and medical testing to prove the parents are sound and healthy.  That testing may depend on breed, so do your research if you are looking at pure breeds.  Good breeders will always take back an animal they have bred at any point in its life.  Shelters are a good source of many pets, but be aware that in a crowded environment illness may be an issue in a  new pet, plus you will know little or nothing about the pet you are adopting as far as health and background.  You may also not get a clear picture of a pet’s personality in a shelter environment.  Backyard breeders may be puppy-mill breeders, people who thought it was a good idea to let their pet have a litter (that’s a whole ‘nother newsletter there), or those with accidental breedings.  Very few will offer any sort of guarantee.  Choose your pet source wisely.
  6. How much are you ready to spend on your pet?  If you want a pure-bred pet, be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars or more.  You are paying for that genetic testing, consistency of type, guarantee, and the breeder’s commitment to improving and showing their breed.  Mixed breed pets should never cost more than the charges from a shelter for care, boarding, and alteration.  Paying more than an adoption fee for a mixed breed pet makes no sense since you are not getting the benefits a show breeder would offer.  This is true of any mixed breed including those with fancy names ending in “oodle” or “uggle” or “poo”.  Don’t get me wrong.  These mixes can make great pets.  But are they worth the same as a show quality pure bred? They may be, to you, and that’s fine.   If you do choose to adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue, be aware you will need to pay.  They have cared for the pet, vaccinated and tested it, altered it, and have their own overhead to cover.  Are there free pets available?  Certainly.  Feel free to go get one.  But be prepared to pay more initially for health testing and care, and potentially for health problems to be treated as free pets are typically given away by people who either couldn’t afford good medical care (like spaying their adult female) or didn’t care to provide that care.  Which begs the question of how healthy the babies will be.  Finally, if the initial cost of a pet is of great concern to you, can you really afford a pet at all?  There are ongoing costs throughout a pet’s life.  Be sure you are prepared to take on that financial commitment.
  7. Are AKC registered dogs better?  The short answer is NO.  For a puppy to be registered with the AKC, there are two requirements.  Both parents must be registered.  Someone has to fill out the form and send a check.  Period.  AKC registration means nothing in terms of quality or health of the puppy.  A five-legged dog with an overbite, hernia, hydrocephaly, and bad knees can still be registered.  And bred.  Again, do your research if you have your heart set on a particular breed.  Educate yourself on common health problems in that breed.  Determine if testing can be done to prove the parents don’t have those health problems.  Ask the breeder if such testing has been done.  Ask a vet about issues they see in that breed.  But just because a dog is AKC registered does not imply it is somehow worth more money.  It is up to you to find a reputable breeder to purchase from.


I hope this has been or will be of some help to you or those you know.  Share it with anyone considering adding a pet to their family.  As a vet, certainly, I’m in favor of people having pets.  But as a holistic vet, I’m in favor of pets being well-matched to their families so they have a life-long home.  Try to choose wisely.


Upcoming Events:        Holiday Hours, closed Labor Day, closing at noon September 4

September 12,  2-3 p.m., Raymore Orscheln’s Store on 58—Dr Leonard will be discussing holistic veterinary medicine and its differences from conventional medicine, with a Q and A session to follow 

September 25, by appointment:  Canine Massage  with Michelle Sickles.  Call 816-331-1868 to schedule an appointment for your dog. 

September 26, 1-3 p.m., at Whole Health Pet Center, 18011 E State Rte 58, Raymore—Chiropractic care for pets free seminar.  Learn the benefits of regular chiropractic care for both dogs and cats.  

Please share our website and Facebook page!  Whole Health Pet Center

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