Whether you have always wanted a pet, grew up with a family pet and now want your own, are looking for a companion, or are being beseeched by your children; there are a number of things to consider before adopting a pet. Here, we’ve outlined the top 10:
- Why do you want a pet? This may seem like a simple question but it is an important one. If you are thinking of adopting a pet to appease a partner or your children you need to step back and contemplate whether you are willing to commit to the animal as well, especially if you will be the primary caregiver.
- Will a pet fit into your lifestyle? Pets require a lot of attention, especially puppies and kittens. They need food, water, care, exercise, training and companionship and an active social life or demanding work schedule may have to be adjusted to make time for the new addition.
- Are you in for the long haul? Bringing a pet into the family is not a temporary situation; it is for the duration of the pet’s life. Old age comes with challenges and health issues and you need to be prepared to care for your pet through all of the ups and downs.
- Financial obligations. Between basic pet supplies such as a crate or cage, litter box, food, collars and leashes to training classes, vet bills, spaying or neutering, and toys, the costs can add up. It is a good idea to research expenses and work out a budget beforehand.
- Living arrangements. When it comes to living arrangements and pets, size isn’t the only consideration. If renting, you need to ensure pets are allowed in the home or if part of a regulated community, ensure there are no restrictions in place. It is also important to note that some small dogs need larger spaces to run and burn off energy while some large breeds are perfectly comfortable to lay on the couch all day.
- Type or breed of pet. Those with a busier lifestyle may want a pet that is more independent such as a gerbil, rabbit or cat. Alternatively, if you are looking for a companion to hike with, play or cuddle with, a dog may be the better option. Once you know the type of pet you’re looking for research the different breeds as there are many variances in personality.
- Who will look after the pet while you’re at work or on vacation? Those that work long hours may need to consider a dog-walker or pet-companion who checks in on the pet throughout the day. When traveling on vacation and leaving a pet behind, is there a family member or friend who can stay with them or take the pet in? Or do you need to find a suitable kennel or pet hotel?
- Health issues that may be affected by a pet? Allergies are a typical concern before bringing a pet into the family but many people don’t realize that smaller animals such as hamsters and gerbils, which may seem like a great idea for families with young children, actually present a risk of salmonella and should be avoided by homes with children under the age of 5.
- Are there any pets already in the home? Before adopting a new pet, assess other animals already in the home. Their age, personality and breed may impact how they react to a new pet.
- Overall care of the pet. Every day your pet will need food, water, exercise, love and attention. They will also require regular grooming that includes having their teeth and fur brushed, nails clipped, and baths. As a pet parent, you will need to clean-up after your pet, clear out the litter box or cage, and be prepared for any other duties that may arise.
A pet is not something to take in on a whim, they are a serious commitment that will impact your everyday life, day-in and day-out for upwards of 10, 15 or even 20 years. That said, if you go in understanding the responsibility you’ve taken on, you are sure to have years of pure love, joy and happiness together. Pets really are a human’s best friend.