Are you ready to bring a pet into your life? Getting a pet is like adopting a baby. In both cases, you’re taking in a living being that depends on you for everything. One big difference — a child becomes self-sufficient in adulthood, while a pet needs you to care for them for life.
Getting a pet is a serious commitment that should never be undertaken lightly. Many animals are initially loved but eventually end up being neglected, surrendered or abandoned because people decide that caring for them is too much responsibility. Before getting a pet, you need to understand what it takes to keep that pet healthy, happy and safe.
Do I have enough time to devote to a pet? All animals need love and attention. Pets need at least 30 minutes of exercise and playtime daily to be physically and mentally healthy. If you’re away most of the day, ensure you can spend quality time with a pet before you leave or when you return. Ensure you’re up to daily demands like scooping litter, keeping a regular schedule to feed a pet or let your pet out.
Can I afford a pet? Ensure you can care financially for your pet for life. Food is only a small part of ongoing costs including: routine vet care, supplies, litter, boarding fees. Unexpected costly medical care may be needed during a pet’s lifetime. Consider buying pet insurance to help.
Is everyone in your household on board? If anyone in your residence doesn’t support the idea of getting a pet, this isn’t the right time to get one. Even if your kids pressure you, if you’re not ready, don’t get one. While kids can participate in caring for a pet, adults must assume overall responsibility.
Can you commit to caring for a pet for their lifetime? With good care, dogs can live 12 to 15 years; cats 15 to 20. When people get pets, they often don’t consider long-range plans or unforeseen situations. At some point, you’ll likely be affected by a change in job, location or marital status. Ensure you can take your pet with you. If you’re older, ensure you have a plan to care for your pet if you’re no longer able.
Is my living arrangement stable and pet-friendly? If you live in a rental, think carefully before getting a pet — moving to a place where pets aren’t allowed is a common reason pets are surrendered. Make sure your home is pet-safe and ensure you have a fenced yard or greenspace nearby before getting a dog.
Will a pet fit into my lifestyle? If you work long hours, have a hectic social life or travel often, your lifestyle may not be appropriate for a pet. Ensure you have a reliable person or facility to care for your pet when travelling.
Are you OK with your home being less than perfect? Hair everywhere, muddy paw prints, puppy accidents, scattered litter ... ensure you can accept these things before getting a pet.
Do you know what you’re looking for? Ensure you research the kind of pet that would fit best into your family and lifestyle. There are lots of websites and books to help you.
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you’re ready to find your forever companion!