Are you ready for a pet?
Pets are people’s best friends: they become part of our family, don’t talk back to us, are always happy to see us, and bring us hours of joy and entertainment. Pets are also a huge responsibility, as well as an expense if they become sick or old and require special diet and care.
If you think that you are ready for a pet, consider these factors in making a commitment:
Do you have the time?
You neighbour’s dogs are so cute and cuddly, that every time you see them, you want one of your own. But do you really have the time and energy to take the dog out every morning, during the day and in the evening? Are you a morning person who is ready too take the dog out for a walk first thing in the morning, no matter how cold, or rainy it is outside? Dogs require daily exercise and mental stimulation, besides they just have to go out for nature’s reasons, first thing in the morning,. Who will take care of the dog if you are on vacation, and how long of a vacation can you take? Cats are a little easier to take care of, and can be left at home for a longer period of time, although they still crave social interaction. Even though you may be calling yourself a “dog person,” consider getting a cat instead if time is an issue.
Do you have the money?
Costs of pet food, cat litter, and vet bills add up. Pets need regular immunization, de-worming, and teeth cleaning. Aging pets get arthritis, tumours, and just about any illness that the humans get. Active pets are prone to injuries, with just one x-Ray bill from the vet costing hundreds of dollars. Since some purebread animals are more prone to certain genetic diseases, you should do considerable research about that subject, and always get a purebred pet from a reputable breeder who screens their breeding stock for genetic diseases. The same applies to adopting a pet: no matter how much you want to rescue that sad looking sick dog, remember that you simply cannot afford the skyrocketing expense of taking care of a sick animal!
Is your lifestyle going to change?
It is hard to predict the future, but if you are planning on getting a new job, having a baby, moving to a new country or getting married any time soon, consider how that may impact your pet.
Will a pet help or hinder your relationship?
If you are a single lonely woman who spends too much time at home, getting a puppy that would get you out of the house, may be a good idea. It may even help you start conversations with people (well, everybody wants to pat a cute puppy), and possibly even meet men. But what happens if you get involved in a relationship? You will have to make arrangements with a dog walker every time you go out after work, stay at your man’s place overnight, or take a vacation.
How will the pet react around children?
A lot of pets end up in shelters because their owners have kids, and either don’t have the time to care for the animals, or the animals become aggressive or jealous towards children. Consider if you have enough space to separate the pets from the kids in case you are planning on having them in the future.
Do you have the space?
Bigger dogs require more living space to run around and exercise. If you live in a small city apartment, get a smaller low energy breed of a dog or a cat. A smaller pet is easier to take on a trip, put in a bag, and even carry into a store!
Do you have the support?
Ideally, before you bring a new dog or a cat home, you should have a vet, a groomer and a pet sitter interviewed and lined up. Ensure that you have a friend, family member or a pet sitter that you can trust to care for your pet when you are away on a business trip, on vacation, or in case you get sick.
Are you ready for the challenge?
It is one thing to play with a puppy in the park, and another to take care of one. Living pets are like kids with all the bodily functions: they get sick, vomit, and poop. They need to be brushed, cleaned after, bathed, and their teeth need to be brushed. If changing cat litter every day or picking up poop in the park is not your forte, get a plush pet.
Are you spending enough time at home?
How active is your lifestyle? Depending on a personality and breed, some dogs experience more separation anxiety than others. When left at home alone, they cry and bark non-stop. Dogs require more socializing and mental stimulation than cats, although cats grow attached too. Dogs can be left alone for only a few hours during a day, cats can be left alone overnight or for a couple of nights maximum with enough food and water. Birds, rabbits and guinea pigs are more independent, but they still like to see their owners on a regular basis too!
Are you allergic?
All pets shed, and a lot of people are allergic to pets. Make sure you or any of your family members have no pet allergies before you get a pet, as this is just not going to work, and the one who has to go is usually the pet!
If you have answered all the questions above and are not sure if you can care for a pet, consider borrowing a dog or a cat from a friend, volunteer at a pet shelter or a pet hospital. Help a neighbour with dog walking – it will help you determine if will be making a right choice by getting a little furry friend, and may even help earn extra income! No matter what you do, consider getting a pet a long term arrangement that will last for decades!
Recommended reading: How to hire a pet sitter