Ask The Vet: Which Pets Are Low Maintenance?

A range of popular household pets

In our second installment of ‘Ask The Vet’, we’ve reached into the reader mailbag to answer the question: which pets are low maintenance? We must start by pointing out one caveat: while some pets are inevitably less demanding of their owner’s time than others, no pet can ever be seen as truly ‘hands off’. This is because even the simplest animal in our lives needs a certain degree of love and attention to flourish and thrive.

Having said that, let’s get right into the analysis of low maintenance vs high maintenance pets right away:

Low Maintenance Animals

Among popular and widely available pets, the most obvious relatively low maintenance examples are small rodents, fish, and birds. Cats also figure in the conversation because of their independent streak and general cleanliness. Low maintenance in this regard refers to the relative ease and small amount of space required to take care of the pet — however, it doesn’t mean that regular pet visits can be put off or skipped entirely.

Small rodents include hamsters, gerbils, and Guinea pigs among others. These pets have been staples of households for decades for the simple reason that they provide great joy and companionship to people of all ages at a relatively low financial expense. Most have an adorable nature and beautiful fur to complement their pleasant temperament.

Caring for a rodent at a young age also helps children to begin to appreciate and understand the importance of delicate handling and regular upkeep that are so important when caring for an animal of any size. Regular feeding remains a must, as does the frequent cleaning of the pet’s environment.

Birds, meanwhile, are elegant, vibrant, and sociable companion pets that attract huge swathes of owners across the world. Although birds don’t tend to place too much strain on their owner’s time, it’s important not to underestimate the space requirements of popular breeds. Despite their small size, parakeets, or budgies in the rest of the world, do need ample space to thrive in the home environment.

Although fish tend to be regarded as the ultimate low maintenance pet, tank cleanings should never be neglected. A 20-liter tank is also advisable as an absolute minimum if your fish are to reach their full potential, even if you only plan to own one or two in total.

When it comes to your decision on which pet to take home, you’ll need to weigh up all factors including cost, time demands, and space requirements. For this reason, purchasing an animal is a highly individual decision and will rest on the unique circumstances of you and your family. Nevertheless, we hope we’ve covered enough of the fundamentals to help you start thinking through the best choice for you!

High Maintenance Animals

On the flip side, there are many animals that could never fit the definition of low maintenance. Two obvious examples are dogs and horses. As well as being somewhat more expensive than their lower maintenance counterparts, dogs are relentlessly energetic and highly social creatures that need social hours and plenty of time in outdoor expanses in order to be healthy and happy.

Cramped indoor living spaces, few walks, and too much time alone is a recipe for an unhappy dog and unhappy owner alike.

Horses, meanwhile, don’t require too much explaining! This animal is arguably the most beautiful and rewarding of all for those who enjoy riding and have the luxury of space, energy, and time at their disposal. However, prohibitive costs and intense upkeep demands put it out of the reach for the majority of animal lovers.

Making Your Choice

Pets should never be regarded as a non-negotiable purchasing decision unless you’re ready to make a long-term commitment. Giving away an animal shouldn’t be seen as a backup plan in case you run out of energy or simply tire of the presence of the pet in your home. Rather, it should be regarded as a last resort only when your life circumstances shift in a highly unexpected way.

Even a humble pet fish can live for around 5 years and so stability in your plans for housing is a major plus in nurturing certainty for the future for you both you and your animal. In this sense, long-term commitment and low maintenance are clearly separable aspects of pet ownership. Even when you do add a low maintenance pet to your home, you must be certain that you’re willing to provide at least a basic level of care for the foreseeable future.

If you’re sure that you’ll be in it for the long haul then you can begin to weigh up what pet is the right fit for you and your family in terms of temperament, sociability, and time commitment. You’ll also have to consider other crucial factors we touched on earlier like expense and space requirements.

After you’ve made a decision, the only thing left for us to say is: enjoy your pet and the times you’ll spend together! On the same note, also make sure your new companion enjoys you and your shared environment to the fullest extent.

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