Choosing a Pet

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Pets

It’s often said that a pet isn’t just an animal, but a member of the family. Both anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that pets help their owners enjoy longer, healthier, happier lives. Of course, with the wonderful rewards of pet ownership comes great responsibility. The Internet is a useful source of advice and assistance to keep coats glistening and tails wagging—if you know where to look. We’ve herded some of the Web’s best pet-care resources into this guide so you can spend less time researching and more time with your animal.

Choosing a Pet

Whatever your degree of experience with animals, do some research if you’re thinking of inviting one into your home. Many animal owners who don’t end up overwhelmed by the commitment. Use this section of the guide to determine what kind of animal is right for you, understand what special care each type of pet requires, and learn about specific breeds or species. You’ll find out what to do if you suffer from allergies or health concerns but still want to get a pet, and you’ll learn how to adopt a pet from an animal shelter. You can even visit an interactive site that allows you to “customize” your pet.

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  • Think carefully about compatibility in every instance. Is every member of your household as keen as you are on this addition to the family? Will your lifestyle permit you to have the animal you want? Certain breeds of dog require a lot of exercise, for example. Would you be able to provide, say, an hour-long walk every day?
  • Talk to a vet or the manager of a rescue center, preferably someone who comes recommended by a relative or friend. Such professionals may spot factors in your lifestyle––ones you haven’t considered––that preclude or are conducive to certain animals. These people are a great source of reliable, unbiased advice.
  • As you research online, be sure that the sites you’re reading are objective. Many of the opinions you’ll find come from pet owners already enamored with their choice. Keep this in mind as you read about different animals and breeds.
  • If you are looking for animals that are bred privately, use the Internet to find reputable breeders instead of visiting a pet store. You can find out whether a breeder is trustworthy by visiting the breed association online.
  • Web sites that offer interactive discussions about animals or breed types may provide you with unanticipated but valuable advice, and you can also ask questions.
  • In this guide, you’ll find specific sections for dogs and cats. This is because they are the most popular domestic pets, and also because they tend to require more immediate and interactive care than fish, rodents, reptiles, or birds.

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For a general introduction to pet ownership …
For people with pet-related human health concerns …
For people considering adopting a homeless animal …
For help selecting a dog breed …
If you’re thinking of getting a cat …
For potential fish owners …
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Pet Care

There are a number of matters to consider when introducing a pet into your home. This section of the guide helps you deal with the necessary health, feeding, and obedience issues—including spaying, neutering, and potential behavioral problems in dogs, cats, birds, and fish. Learn about pet insurance (and whether you need it), and find out what online veterinary resources can help you keep your pet well between visits to your actual vet. This guide can even help you get your lost pet home.

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  • No Web site can ever be a substitute for a qualified veterinarian. Make sure you find one you trust, and keep the clinic’s contact information handy in case of an emergency. Remember that regular checkups can sometimes nip developing ailments in the bud.
  • Any vet can implant a microchip in your animal that will help you find your pet if it ever becomes lost. It causes only a moment of mild discomfort, and the cost averages $70. Unfortunately, these chips aren’t tracking devices (not yet, anyway). But if your furry friend has a chip and she’s turned in at a vet’s practice, a scanner can provide a conclusive ID. By referring to a database, the vet will then be able to find your contact details.

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For general information on the health and behavior of pets …
When choosing pet food …
For help with those first few days and weeks …
On dealing with dogs’ behavioral and health issues …
On dealing with cats’ behavioral and health issues …
On dealing with bird behavioral issues …
For questions on fish behavior and issues …
For advice on spaying and neutering …
For veterinary clinics and pet hospitals …
For information on pet insurance …
To help your lost pet get home …
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Online Pet Supplies

Our pets have not been neglected in the rise of online retail. Shopping on the Web for animal products has all the advantages—namely, convenience and discount prices—that we’ve come to expect from Internet stores. In this section, you’ll learn how to get food, toys, accessories, medication, carriers, and crates with the click of a mouse.

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  • If you are dealing with a breeder, get advice from him or her on recommended brands of products—especially nutritional and medical items. Someone with a lot of experience with your animal type and breed will know the specifics of your pet’s health needs.
  • eBay.com has a great advice section on pet gear. Visit the guide for tips and find great deals on pet supplies online.

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For food, toys, and accessories …
For medications …
For carriers and crates …
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Pet Friendly Travel

Some people find it so painful to be separated from their pets that they have to vacation as a complete family. Lucky for them, there are many pet-friendly lodgings and airlines that allow animals. If you would rather not be limited in your choice of hotel and destination by your pet’s needs, and if you can face being separated for a while, online resources can help you find a trustworthy temporary residence for your pet.

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  • If your animal is going on a plane, check the airline’s Web site or contact the airline directly to check its requirements. Pet travel policies differ between airlines, and regulations often change. Make sure you are clear on the rules before you bring your pet to the airport.
  • Only use a kennel or day-care center that has been recommended by somebody you trust. The American Boarding Kennels Association can be of some help, but information from your local vet will probably be more extensive and reliable when it comes to local services.
  • If you need to purchase a pet carrier or crate, consult the “Online Pet Supplies” section of this guide.

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For pet-friendly lodgings …
For when you plan to fly with your pet …
For information on choosing a pet carrier …
For when you need to board your pet …
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Animal Magazines

Few of the online animal magazines do more than carry countless photos of adored animals and repetitive tales of their endearing antics. But if you want something a little more informative, we’ve put together a list of our favorites.

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  • Lots of pet news can also be found on blogs and forums, which are updated by pet enthusiasts on a daily basis. Search your favorites, or browse those listed in the next section of this guide.
  • If you’re looking for publications that deal specifically with your breed of pet, research clubs dedicated to the breed: most will have newsletters. You can find out about these clubs through your breeder.

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Online Pet Community

If friends and family members are tired or hearing you talk endlessly about your pet, visit some of the sites below for an unending stream of animal enthusiasm. Pet lovers like you come together on these blogs and forums to express their affections and share photos, stories, tips, and advice on pet care.

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  • Blogs and forums can be a valuable place to get advice on pet health issues. Be mindful, however, that the postings are user-generated and are not guaranteed truths: if you get a vital piece of information or advice from a blog or forum, double-check the facts elsewhere.
  • Be sure to contribute if you have a worthwhile piece of advice or a question that you think will behoove other users. Interactive sites are kept alive by user contributions; your sound entry may improve another user’s Internet experience or his or her relationship with a pet.

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