Choosing a Pet

Top considerations when choosing a pet

  • Species & Breeds
  • Age & Lifespan
  • Space & Shelter
  • Diet & Health
  • Cohabitants (human and critter)
  • Financial Responsibility
  • Your Lifestyle & Time
  • Noise & Natural Behaviour

You probably know that different species of animals need different equipment, shelter, permits, space, diet and healthcare maintenance.

Space & Shelter

  • Livestock such as pigs, poultry, goats and horses, can only be housed on approved zoned areas. Please consult your township office or City Hall for pertinent regulations before choosing to adopting livestock. It is unlawful to house these kinds of animals in most residential areas and require a certain amount of acreage. It is also difficult to find exotic veterinary doctors in some rural areas.
  • Large fish aquariums are not permitted in many apartment/condo buildings or rental housing, because of the weight and volume of water. It could literally fall through the floor! Or leak, tip over and spill, causing damage. Some insurance companies will charge you extra for large fish aquarium set ups.
  • Each municipality has bylaws depicting the number of pets allowed per household. For example, Ottawa allows 3 dogs OR 5 cats per household, to a total of 5 pets maximum. Every municipality is different, so please consult your township office.
  • If you are currently renting, please be realistic when choosing a pet, because if you move and the new landlord doesn’t allow pets, it is extremely unfair for the animal to lose it’s home with you. Some rentals only allow small pets under 30 pounds. Think about your long term living arrangements and ask yourself if you are willing to keep your pets regardless and only choosing rentals that allow pets, or wait to adopt a pet until you are owning your own home.
  • Every animal needs shelter, a bed and room to exercise. Outdoor livestock require warm and dry shelter. Eastern Ontario winters can kill if the animals can’t stay dry and warm.  Birds and pocket pets (rats, bunnies etc) need a cage AND a safe place to exercise daily, like a portable play pen, or a safe room.
  • Consider noise and damage, and what you will tolerate or what is permitted when choosing your pet. Consider how loud a lonely barking dog can be and how destructive it could get when unsupervised. Will you tolerate damage to your property? Will you tolerate constant meowing, barking or bird squawking?


  • In general, the larger the animal, the more money it will cost to feed it. Ensure you are able to provide the proper species appropriate diet, and that you won’t enforce unreasonable beliefs or preferences, such as vegetarianism for cats or afraid/unwilling to feed your snake feeder mice.
  • Different species of reptiles, different breeds of birds, and the various pocket pets all require different diets. Dogs cannot live off cat food and visa versa, and horses can’t just live off hay. Be sure to research what your new pet needs ahead of time and estimate the monthly cost to avoid any surprises.

Health & Maintenance

  • Every pet will require a licensed veterinary doctor, even if they were already vaccinated and sterilized.  Every pet should get an annual health exam, and may require regular vaccinations and parasite prevention. Prevention is always easier and cheaper than treating emergencies or preventable diseases/infections.  It is sometimes difficult to find veterinary doctors for “exotic” pets such as birds, pocket pets, reptiles and livestock. It’s recommended to find a vet BEFORE adopting. Some rescues require the veterinary doctors contact info on the adoption application.
  • Every pet with claws will need them trimmed every 4-6 weeks. If you aren’t trained to do it yourself, it can cost $10-$20 per session. If claws are not trimmed regularly, it could cause painful spine alignment and joint issues, accidental tears and injury to handlers.
  • Every ungulate needs regular trimming. Pigs, sheep, horses all need a pedicure every few months, and could cost a couple hundred dollars each time, if you aren’t trained to do it yourself.
  • Some pets will require regular dental care, such as horses need their teeth rasped every couple years, or sometimes annually. Rodent pets such as rats, guinea pigs and rabbits have teeth that never stop growing, so appropriate chewing materials must be constantly available. Cats and dogs require regular dental cleaning as well! If you aren’t prepared to brush their teeth, it may cost a few hundred dollars or even thousands to treat mouth disease. Mouth disease is commonly seen in cats and dogs younger than 3 years old! It is inhumane and cruel to let the teeth rot and fall out on their own. Their teeth hurt as much as ours do when we have issues.
  • Some pets will need regular professional grooming, such as long haired dogs. Each grooming session can cost around $50-$150 every 6-8 weeks.
  • New pets should be kept isolated from the resident pets, in case something was missed or the stress triggers an illness. Usually a bathroom is best because it can be easily sterilized. Livestock should be kept isolated as well, so be sure you have the space and “spare” shelter/barn for newcomers.


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