Hello, Alamogordo! I’m veterinarian Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care. Welcome to Vet Minute.

Today’s topic is How to Choose a Pet. Perhaps you have been thinking about joining the 68% of US households with a pet. Pet ownership has been proven to provide several benefits for the owner, from improved psychological and physical health, a sense of closeness and love, and even a longer life! All this is aside from the gift you can offer an animal of a safe home and unconditional love. However, it is important to choose a pet that fits well in your household and with your lifestyle. The most popular pet in the US is a dog, with 60 million households containing at least one canine. Dogs are often loyal, playful, and fun members of the family. If you travel a lot, are gone for more than 8 hours at a time for work, or prefer a very clean home, a dog might not be the right pet for you. But if it is, the next question is what breed or type of dog. Herding dogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs, or mixed breeds with a large proportion of these working breeds in them are quite intelligent and energetic. Not only must they get a LOT of exercise, but also need a job to feel fulfilled. Working breeds that don’t get enough exercise can turn to destructive behavior or anxiety. Toy breeds and certain types of larger breeds tend to be happier sitting around at home and snuggling and may not need quite as rigorous an exercise schedule. Besides breed, I also recommend carefully considering the age of dog you would like to adopt. Puppies, while fun and oh-so-cute, are a lot of work! They require months of training to become great dogs, and if you don’t have time to dedicate to training, I do not recommend a puppy. Older dogs, while their personality and habits are somewhat more set, can make wonderful pets, especially if you can find out before adopting if they are good with other dogs, cats, children, etc. If you are looking for a pet that doesn’t require daily exercise outdoors, or you have a small home, stay tuned for our next show to hear about some of the many other options out there! And remember – please adopt, don’t shop.

To follow up on our last show on How to Choose a Pet, let’s talk about alternatives to dogs. If you are looking for a pet that doesn’t require daily exercise outdoors, or you have a small home, a cat can be a wonderful companion. Cats’ personalities are as varied as their looks, so be sure to pick a feline who meshes with your idea of the perfect pet – is it a snuggle bug who wants to sit on your lap at all times? Or a playful kitty who uses the house as his personal obstacle course and gym? Or is it a more aloof animal who keeps her distance from her human servants? Maybe due to allergies or a dislike for fur-anointed décor, something other than a cat or dog would be best for you. Small mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish can all make wonderful pets. However, “exotic” pets often have very specific housing and feeding requirements, and I recommend doing a lot of research to be sure you can provide for their needs before adopting a guinea pig, snake, cockatiel, or any other of the fascinating animals that can be kept in captivity. The bottom line is that in order for pet ownership to benefit both you and the pet, you must do your research before deciding on a pet. Check out some books at the library! Talk to your veterinarian, local rescue organizations, and the animal shelter. Above all, please adopt, don’t shop.

This “Vet Minute” brought to you by Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care on Cuba Avenue in Alamogordo, and KHII. Submit your questions for consideration on upcoming shows by visiting our website at pawinhandvet.com or calling us at 434-4343.