guinea pig

Choosing a pet in Canada

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on April 19, 2021

guinea pig

Whether you wish to be a first-time pet owner, or you’ve taken care of animals for many years, keeping a pet in Canada is a responsibility that you need to prepare for. There are numerous benefits to doing so. Apart from providing companionship, animals lower your stress levels (see this article for more tips on how to manage stress), provide you with a sense of purpose, push you to exercise (check this article for strategies on how to maintain physical fitness), add structure to your day, and boost your self-esteem. If you are looking to own a pet, which one would be the best one for you? And if you already own one and want to bring it to Canada, what do you need to do?

Before you get a pet

Keeping a pet is a commitment that takes time and money, so you have to be honest with yourself about whether you’re ready and willing to make that commitment. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do I have a stable home situation?
  • Can I afford to take care of a pet for the duration of its life?
  • Do I have the time to feed and care for it?
  • Do I have enough space to keep it?
  • Do I know someone who could take care of my pet when I go on vacation?
  • Am I ready to change my lifestyle for my new companion?

Selecting a pet

If you decide you would like to keep a pet and know that you can handle the responsibilities that come with it, you can start searching for your new companion! Consider adopting instead of purchasing pets from pet stores. Adopted animals are less expensive than those sold by breeders and pet stores, and you can choose a young pet or an adult. Thousands of animals in Canada are available for adoption at shelters and rescue centres. You can also adopt a pet from other owners who can no longer keep their pet.

Fish

If you are seeking low-maintenance pets that don’t require a lot of time and commitment, fish are a great option. Types of freshwater fish you can get are neon tetras, goldfish, algae eaters, and guppies. Aside from being adorable and affordable, fish are quiet, don’t take up much space, and are easy to take care of. A new five-gallon aquarium can cost anywhere between $40 – $80. If you have children, you can teach them how to feed the fish and maintain the fish tank.

Rodents

Other pets to consider are rodents like guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, and degus. While they do require more hands-on care than fish, they can be a more attractive option because you can hold them, carry them, and play with them. While these animals require some exercise, and time outside of their cages, you don’t need to go for a walk around the block with them. You have to make sure to clean their cages daily, and keep in mind that they can be sociable creatures. Rodents like degus and guinea pigs should not be alone. They should, at the very least, be kept in pairs of the same species and gender.

hamster

Dogs

If you would like a pet to go jogging and hiking with, adopting a dog might be your first choice. There are many different breeds of dogs including Golden Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, German Shepherds, Shar-Peis, Great Danes, and Chihuahuas. Dogs are loyal and loving companions. You can take your dog to the park and teach him or her new tricks. They do require exercise and may require medical care, so you should be willing to walk your dog and cover any additional costs.

walking a dog

Cats

Cats are sweet, affectionate, and playful pets that you can snuggle up with at the end of a long day. There are many breeds of cats including Siamese cats, Ragdolls, and Persian cats. Cats are independent creatures, and they can get rid of pests. You can keep them primarily indoors as long as you play with them and create an environment where they can stay active.

housecat

There are many other pets available, like birds and reptiles, but the options above are easier to find, adopt, and take care of.

Bringing your pet to Canada

If you already have a pet in another country and want to bring it to Canada, you should take a look at the Canadian government’s import requirements. You might need to get an import permit for your pet. Your pet might also be subject to quarantine requirements. Keep in mind that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requires documents for all animals entering Canada and can refuse entry to Canada to any animal.

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