The Right Pet for You

Woman sits on a park bench with terrier

Congrats—you’ve decided to join the happy ranks of pet parenthood! The hardest decision you face may not be what to name your furry bundle of joy, or what color food bowl to buy, but simply what species to adopt.

Whether you have a thing for fur or feathers, we’re here to help. With tongue-firmly-in-cheek, we've put together a list of the pros and cons of living with a particular—and sometimes peculiar—animal companion.


  • Yes! We don't call them our best friends for nothing. Loyal and loving, dogs are social animals who thrive on being upstanding members of their families.
  • No! If there are young kids in the house, a puppy may not be your your best bet. Instead, try a medium-sized dog over five months of age.
  • Way to go! If you've done your research and found a breed that meshes with your lifestyle, you’re on the right track! Don’t forget to draw up a schedule of who in the family will do what—walking, playing, feeding and grooming.

For more information about living with a pooch, please read our guide to dog care online. And while you'll score big with us if you adopt a mixed-breed dog, we understand you may have your heart set on a purebred—but don’t give up on finding one at your local shelter!


For more information about living with kitties, check out our guide to basic cat care online.


  • Yes! Playful, cheery and chirpy, this little charmer is the most popular avian companion. He's gentle and funny, can be readily tamed to sit on your shoulder, and makes a perfect first bird for the young members of the family.
  • No! Birds can be messy….really messy. You'll need to clean the cage and surrounding area daily. Also, keep in mind that not all budgies talk, even though they have the capability.
  • Way to go! A budgie is a great choice if you've got your heart set on an avian mimic but don't have the time, money or space for a larger member of the parrot family.

For more information, read our guide to bird care.  And if your kids or students have birds on the brain, send them to our nifty kids’ site, ASPCA Kids.


  • Yes! Got allergies, limited space and/or lean towards the exotic? Although fish are relatively low maintenance, there's a definite science to keeping them and their environment healthy—hence their appeal to big-brained types who get a kick out of seeing the nitrogen cycle at work.
  • No! If you’re looking for a pet who will follow you around, lick your face and play fetch, a finned friend is probably not for you.
  • Way to go! Get all of your equipment beforehand, do your research and know what species are safe to keep together. If you've done your homework, you probably know that common goldfish can live for more than 10 years if properly cared for!

Check out our fish care guide for more information. Our young friends can visit ASPCAKids for all the latest dish on fish.

Guinea Pig

  • Yes! They're not pigs and they're not from New Guinea, but these cuddle bugs are the most docile of all companion rodents. Under adult supervision, guinea pigs are excellent first pets for children.
  • No! These little critters aren't the kind of pets you can passively watch through the bars of the cage. They need time out to exercise every day.
  • Way to go! Fun for the whole family, social GPs are great in pairs, just be sure you have adequate housing for them. And do your reading—these guys have special dietary needs!

For more information, see our guide to guinea pigs. Little pig caretakers can head to ASPCA Kids to learn more about these great pets.


  • Yes! Off the cuteness charts, hamsters are busy little rodents who are very popular with kids and great pets for apartment dwellers.
  • No! Did you know that hamsters sleep during the day and are active at night?
  • Way to go! You’re ready for a hamster if you're a night owl and/or won't be bothered by your pet eating, digging and running on his wheel in the wee hours. P.S. Syrian hamsters are solitary and must be kept alone. Dwarf hamsters are more social and can be housed together, so make sure you know what species you’re bringing home.

For more information, read our guide to basic hamster care. And we know your kids probably want to know more about these miniature teddy bears, too, so check out our kid-friendly page.


  • Yes! They can be trained to use the litter box, they'll come when called, and their all-time favorite activities are to dig and chew. Who knew? The sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy rabbit can be a great pet for the right family.
  • No! Rabbits can’t live outdoors! Outside, rabbits can die of fright and are susceptible to diseases spread by ticks and other parasites.
  • Way to go! If you've done the research and understand exactly what rabbits need—big-time digging and chewing—then you’re ready for a cotton-tailed friend. Be sure to have your new bun spayed or neutered.

For more information, peruse our webpage on basic rabbit care. Children can check out our fun bunny facts at ASPCAKids.

For more information about selecting the right pet for you and your family, and how to prepare your home for a furry, feathered or scaled arrival, check out our host of adoption tips.