The great pet debate: How to choose the right pet for your family
GUIDES & RESOURCES
Tips for choosing a family pet
A pet can make a great addition to any family. They can be great companions, fantastic playmates, and even help to keep your house safe.
However, you’ll also want to consider how your new cat or dog will fit into your family.
*iSelect's partnered with Choosi Pty Ltd to compare a range of pet insurers and policies. Not all policies are available at all times or in all areas. Our advice on this website is general in nature and does not consider your situation or needs. Consider if any advice is appropriate for you before acting on it. Learn more.
In this article, we’ll look at how you might go about this.
Match a pet to your lifestyle
Different pets will be better suited to different ways of life, so before settling on a particular animal or breed, you may want to first consider the following:
Where do you live?
If you live inside a small apartment, a big dog with boundless energy may not be the best choice. Instead, these pups might be better suited to a country area with a big backyard.
Cats are more low-maintenance than dogs, however dogs such as Pomeranians and Maltese, typically take better to living indoors1. Of course, you’ll also want to consider how noisy your new pet might be – especially if it’s likely to keep your neighbours awake at night.
How much time can you spare?
Some pets also need more exercise and care than others. Some breeds of dogs can need up to an hour of exercise each day, this means making plenty of time for walks.
If you already have a busy job or lots of commitments, it might be hard to care for such pets. However, if strolls around the neighbourhood are already a part of your routine, then these dogs can make great walking buddies.
What kind of pet do you need?
People add pets to their family for different reasons. Sometimes they want a gentle animal that sets everyone at ease. Sometimes they want a guard dog to keep everybody safe.
It might be worthwhile to think about your own reasons for picking a pet before you make the commitment. For example, if you value peace and quiet, cats can be a good choice, but if security is your main concern, then you might prefer a dog on the larger side.
Consider your domestic circumstances
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave young children alone and unsupervised with pets. However, there are additional steps you might take to keep your kids safe around the new cat or dog:
Consider the breed
A 2021 US study2 in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine reviewed a sample 967 pediatric patients who suffered dog-bite injuries in 2013-2018. The researchers found that most of these bites came from encounters with large dogs.
Bites from Pit Bulls were also associated with much more severe injuries than other dogs2. So you may wish to reconsider them as an option if they're likely to be around kids.
Create the right environment
You’ll want to introduce a new pet to your children in a calm setting. This means making sure your kids are gentle with the new pet, patting them softly and speaking quietly to them.
As noted by the RSPCA3, you might also reward new dogs with a food treat for calm behaviour. Doing so will also help them associate your children with something positive.
Give them time
Cats and dogs need to get used to children at their own pace. Regular breaks away from the kids is a good rule of thumb, as is making sure they’re not interrupted when eating or sleeping.
If you’re expecting a newborn, you’ll also want to get your pet used to the idea of sharing your attention. The RSPCA4 mentions that carrying around a doll during the last few months of pregnancy might be one way to do this.
Consider any health issues
Do your loved ones have any allergies to cats and dogs? If they do, then you’ll need to think about whether these pets will be right for your family.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a completely non-allergic cat or dog5. Although some breeds are less prone to shedding, there is little scientific evidence that casts any particular breed as less allergenic than others6.
Even if allergies are not an issue, you’ll still want to ensure your cats and dogs get treated for worms on a regular basis. Doing so will keep your pet healthy and ensure that they do not pass on any parasites to you or your family.
Review your budget
Costs are also an important factor when selecting a pet.
According to the 2021 “Pets and the Pandemic” report by Animal Medicine Australia7, the average yearly cost of a dog is $3,237. For cats this is $2,074.
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t get a pet that you might not be able to afford. So it can be prudent to plan for these costs in advance and review whether they’ll fit into your budget.
Ask yourself if you need pet insurance
Finally, you might wish to keep other expenses – such as pet insurance – in mind.
Your new cat or dog can quickly become a part of the family, and they may need medical attention if they get sick and injured.
In such cases, the treatment they need may come with a hefty vet bill. However, if you hold a pet insurance policy, it might be able to cover you for a significant part of the costs.
Where can I compare my pet insurance options?
Ultimately, whether or not you choose to get pet insurance is a personal decision. However, if you’re looking for a policy, we can definitely help.
At iSelect*, we’ve partnered with Choosi to help you compare a range of pet insurance policies easily online from a range of providers. Start comparing with us today!
Sources:RSPCA Puppy Guide (Under “Different Types of Dogs” and “Dog Type”)
Lee, Christine J., et al. "Surgical treatment of pediatric dog-bite wounds: a 5-year retrospective review." Western journal of emergency medicine 22.6 (2021): 1301.
Lockey, Richard F. "The myth of hypoallergenic dogs (and cats)." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 130.4 (2012): 910-911.
Dávila, I., et al. "Consensus document on dog and cat allergy." Allergy 73.6 (2018): 1206-1222. (Section 3.4.1)
Animal Medicines Australia, Pets and the Pandemic (2021), Page 24
*iSelect's partnered with Choosi Pty Ltd (ABN 15 147 630 886) to help you compare pet insurance policies. iSelect earns a commission from Choosi for every policy sold through the website or contact centre. iSelect and Choosi do not compare all providers or policies in the market.
Any advice provided by iSelect on this website is of a general nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You need to consider the appropriateness of any information or general advice we give you, having regard to your personal situation, before acting on our advice or purchasing any policy. You should consider iSelect's Financial Services Guide which provides information about our services and your rights as a client of iSelect. iSelect receives commission for each policy sold by Choosi.
We'd love to know what you think of our website so we can improve it!