Often we hear that people resemble their pets. It may be in looks, mannerism or emotions. But the most important factor in choosing a pet is love and care between the pet and the owner.

Consider the physical compatibility. Will the dog you choose enjoy the same lifestyle that you do? Will they be a running companion or share couch space with you? It is advised to consult with your veterinarian and a pet behaviorist when choosing the right pet for you.

Many physical factors come into play when choosing a pet. Size, sex, breed type, and age need to be considered. Size and type of environment and physical requirements in which the pet and owner will be living should be considered. For example, small breeds may be more practical for apartments, puppies may require areas that are less prone to breaking valuables, and certain breeds may have more health needs and maintenance than other breeds. Long haired pets need to be brushed regularly and some older pets may be prone to arthritic changes. Can the older pet comfortably climb stairs every day?

When choosing a pet at the puppy stage, it is very important to know the health status of the father, mother and puppy. Visit the father and mother to see how they live. Assess if the puppies and parents live in a healthy environment and are well cared for. A complete medical history, physical examination, and blood wellness testing of the parents will help indicate possible traits the off spring will have. Have the puppies examined by your veterinarian and have their health care program reviewed.

Certain tests are needed when registering a dog with the American Kennel Club for breeding purposes. Depending on the breed, these may be OFA (Orthopedic Foundation Association) and CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) testing that can be done to help ensure progenies are not affected by these specific hereditary conditions. Some medical conditions such as demodectic mange, cryptorchidism (un-descended testicles) and hip dysplasia warrant castration or spaying to prevent these diseases from being passed down to future generations.

Since numerous factors need to be considered when getting a new pet, I suggest that the owner be the one to choose their pet themselves. After a new pet is brought home, please quarantine, isolate, and observe your pet for a period of at least 2 weeks. It sounds like fun to show them off at the dog park but you need time to observe their health and behavior and they need time to adjust to a new home. This helps make sure that any infections or diseases that may have been present at the time of purchase can be discovered and controlled. If there are other pets in the household this quarantine period can be even longer. Knowing what to expect when you get your new pet family member helps ensure that this loving and caring bond can be properly nurtured.

By Thomas Carlos, DVM MS

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