Shift work is quite common in several different areas, including healthcare, security, law enforcement and transportation. It can be rather challenging, stressful and demanding. Nevertheless, owning a pet is perfectly compatible with busy schedules and shift working, providing you choose a pet that suits your lifestyle.
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How to choose the best pet?
When planning on getting a pet, you should first ask yourself if you are ready for that emotional and financial commitment. Different pets have different nutritional, environmental and behavioural needs that must be acknowledged and addressed appropriately. Depending on your choice, you should also take into account that your pet may need preventive health care (vaccination, deworming, neutering) and veterinary care throughout its life. Therefore, getting a pet ought to be a thoroughly pondered decision!
To make the right choice, you should do detailed research on the basic needs that different pets have to determine whether you can meet them or not. That will help you understand which pet is best for you. Talking to your local veterinarian will certainly help you with that task!
What are the options?
Ideally, shift workers should choose a pet that doesn’t require a lot of attention, interaction and a routine (like going out for a walk), or a pet with a more independent personality, that can cope with staying home alone for prolonged periods (without impacting its welfare, of course). Depending on personal goals and interests, there are a few pets that fulfil these conditions:
They are very low-maintenance pets, as they don’t need much time, space or attention as other pets do. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to know their specific requirements (food, water type, fish to fish interaction) to be able to set up a proper aquarium.
There are several different types of reptiles you can choose as pets, including geckos, iguanas, turtles and also snakes. Although they don’t require frequent interaction and attention, establishing a proper environment for them can be rather demanding and expensive. Apart from thoroughly investigating all of their basic needs, make sure you know their approximate adult size in order not to be surprised!
Rabbits and small rodents:
Although rabbits are not rodents (they are lagomorphs), they share a lot of similarities with them. Small rodents include mice, rats, hamsters, Guinea pigs and chinchillas. These species are commonly housed in cages, therefore do not require a lot of space. Nevertheless, these little furry animals (both rabbits and rodents) have friendly personalities and benefit from daily human interaction, playtime and exercise. Although there might be similarities between them, their specific needs should be recognised and addressed accordingly. Rabbits in particular are NOT pets for beginners as meeting their welfare needs properly can be difficult.
Like reptiles and small rodents, there is also a great variety of birds that can be kept as pets. Depending on the species, some might be easier to care for, while others may demand more of your time and attention (such as parrots, for instance). Thus, remember to consider that when planning to get a pet bird.
Cats are wonderful companions! They combine the perfect balance of being independent but also affectionate. They can be perfectly happy living exclusively indoors, as long as you provide them with environmental enrichment (like toys, scratch posts and a window view). Although they will spend most of their time sleeping while you’re gone, they will let you know how happy they are to see you when you come back home. Make sure to give back some attention and provide them with at least 30 minutes of daily active play.
Having a busy schedule and rotating shifts can be compatible with owning a pet. To choose the best pet that suits you and your lifestyle, the keyword is research! It’s vital to be familiar with the pet’s basic needs to realise whether you can fulfil them. Although some pets may be more low-maintenance than others, bear in mind they all require your emotional and financial commitment. Choose wisely!