Choosing a Pet
A pet can bring warmth and love to a home, but a pet is also a financial, emotional and time commitment that can last 15 years or more. Never adopt a pet impulsively or give one as a gift.
Everyone should agree on the decision to adopt a pet, since it will affect everyone in your family. Also think about how a new pet will affect your current pets.
Pet owner handbooks
Our pet owner handbooks contain information to help you successfully integrate a new pet into your family and ensure it lives a happy and healthy life. Read about nutrition, exercise, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, common parasites, preventing dental disease and more.
Read our Dog Owner's Handbook or Cat Owner's Handbook.
What to consider
Cost: It's important to understand the ongoing costs of pet ownership. Think of your pet's needs for items such as food, housing, training, socialization, exercise, grooming, licensing, pet insurance and veterinary care, and make sure you can afford these essentials and are willing and able to provide them.
Learn about the annual costs of owning a kitten/cat.
Learn about the annual costs of owning a puppy/dog.
Time commitment: From training and daily exercise, to regular feedings and grooming, it's important to be realistic about the commitment it takes to to care for a pet and provide a happy home.
Lifestyle: Consider your lifestyle when choosing a pet. For example, do you work long hours or travel frequently? How much time will your pet spend at home alone? Do you live in a house with a yard or an apartment? Make sure your lifestyle allows you to meet the needs of a pet.
Where to get a pet
It’s important to make sure the pet is healthy and free from potentially life-threatening illnesses, and to acquire pets from a reputable breeder, rescue or shelter organization.
When you choose a pet, you’re accepting responsibility for its health and welfare, and committing to care for your pet for the course of its life. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know before purchasing a pet:
- The pet’s vaccination records and other veterinary medical history.
- If adopting from a rescue or shelter organization, where it acquired the pet. Animals imported from other countries may have been exposed to diseases or parasites not known in Canada that could cause health risks to local animals and humans. There could also be animal welfare issues related to responsible sourcing, safe transport, and other appropriate health checks and screening.
- If purchasing from a breeder, ask if the breeder is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). The CKC Code of Practice insists that members breed dogs that are healthy and sound in both mind and body. You should also ask to meet the puppy’s mother, to ensure the puppy is being raised in an appropriate environment.
- Information about policies on returns or assistance with medical bills if health issues are found after buying or adopting.
It can sometimes be difficult to know if you're buying an imported pet or a pet from a large volume commercial breeder (i.e. puppy mill). OVMA has developed resources for prospective pet owners to help guide their decision-making process, including an infographic outlining red flags to be aware of when purchasing a pet and a buying a pet checklist.
Your veterinarian can help
If you need help choosing a pet for your family, talk to a veterinarian. Veterinarians have the training, knowledge and qualifications to give you the best advice on a potential pet's needs and how to care for a pet.
Once you choose your pet, your veterinarian will be your partner in maintaining the good health of your pet. Regular veterinary exams and preventive care are an integral part of preventing illness and ensuring your pet's good health and welfare.