Family & Pets

How to choose the perfect pet for your family

How to choose the perfect pet for your family

Here are a few steps that you should take before choosing a pet for your family.

Talk it over

Talk it over with your kids. Find out what your children want from a pet. Stress that animals aren’t toys.


Wait a few months to see if the desire was more than just a whim.

Set a budget

Set a budget. Decide what expenses you can meet.

Consider your home

Consider your home. A small unit with no access to the outside is usually an unhappy environment for dogs and cats, which, in turn, can be messy and destructive. 

Consider safety

Consider safety. Cats scratch. Dogs bite. Young children can cause injury to fragile creatures.

Do extensive homework

Do extensive homework. Study animals’ varying needs.

Start small

Start small. Cats and dogs are demanding of time and money. Lower-maintenance animals can provide a good introduction to caring for a furry friend. Now let’s get into some specifics, beginning with mice…

  • Mice. Mice look sweet and are inexpensive, but they require gentle handling and are generally more active at night.
  • Guinea pigs. Guinea pigs need shelter, hiding places and an exercise area safe from predators. They are lovable and responsive: the more they are handled (gently) from the start, the tamer they become. They are extremely active, will get bored if cooped up and crave company.
  • Rabbits. Rabbits are cuddly and sociable. They need space and companionship – from humans and other bunnies. They may be kept outdoors with a hutch and an exercise run, or can live indoors and be house trained. Small pets usually have short life spans. Rabbits live 5-10 years; guinea pigs 5-7 years; mice only 2-3 years. For longevity, choose a tortoise – they can live 50-100 years.
Written by Reader’s Digest Editors. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.