Adopting a pet is a big decision – one that often carries with it both exciting commitments and challenging responsibilities. It’s important to remember that this decision should never be made without thoughtful consideration and research. A pet is not like a toy or even a piece of furniture – it’s a living, breathing creature that will rely on you to provide its basic needs of food, water, shelter, love and attention.
To ensure that you and your pet will both have a pleasant, safe, and fulfilling experience, here are a few key things to consider and do before adopting a pet:
1. Assess your lifestyle
2. Research different pet breeds
3. Consider the space and time commitments
4. Visit an animal shelter or rescue group
5. Prepare for the costs associated with a pet
6. Be sure your other pets are ready for a sibling
7. Find a vet
8. Stock up on pet essentials
9. Sign up for health insurance
10. Develop a plan for training, exercise, and socialization
Assess Your Lifestyle
Before embarking on a pet search, it’s important to first consider the lifestyle you and your family maintain. Adopting a pet must be undertaken with care and commitment – it’s not something that can be taken lightly.
Ask yourself questions such as: Do I travel often? Do I work full-time? Do I have the time and energy to devote to the care of a pet? How often would I be able to take them out for walks?
These questions will help you evaluate if you and your family are ready and capable of providing a home and care to a pet.
Research Different Pet Breeds
Once you’ve determined that adopting a pet is right for your lifestyle, it’s important to research breeds and species. Not all dog or cat breeds have the same characteristics, temperaments, and needs. Determining which would be the most suitable for your family and home is key for a successful adoption.
Make sure you take into account any other animals in the home, as some breeds may not be suited for multiple pet households. Consider spending time with different breeds in shelters or rescue groups to get a sense of the different personalities.
Consider the Space and Time Commitments
Besides assessing your lifestyle, it is also important to take into account the space and time commitments of pet ownership. Proper care of a pet requires a steady dedication of time. Dogs, in particular, should receive daily walks, playtime and enrichment activities. Cats need routine food, litterbox cleanings, and appropriate amounts of play and attention.
It’s important to create a plan ahead of time to be sure you can accommodate the pet’s needs – both during the day and night. Additionally, when it comes to space – how much you can provide indoors or outdoors should be taken into account.
Visit an Animal Shelter or Rescue Group
When you’ve done your research and feel ready to adopt, it’s important to take the time to visit different animal shelters and rescue groups. Often times it can take a few visits before feeling a connection with an animal.
When visiting a shelter or rescue group, ask questions and learn about the animal’s history, personality, and health. Ask about the pet’s interactions with other animals and the environment. Ask if the pet has received medical care and if so, can the organization verify that information.
Prepare for the Costs Associated With a Pet
Adopting a pet is not cheap. It’s not only the initial adoption fee that you need to consider, but also the ongoing costs of care. Pets require regular checkups, vaccinations, grooming, and pet supplies (toys, food, bedding, etc.).
Before making the decision to adopt, crunch the numbers and make sure you can afford the cost of caring for a pet. Buying pet insurance or setting up an emergency fund are both options for helping with unexpected expenses.
Be Sure Your Other Pets Are Ready for a Sibling
If you already have pets in the home, making sure that they are prepared for a new addition to the family is essential. Before bringing home a new pet, help your current pets become accustomed to the idea by introducing them to the new pet’s scent and presence in a controlled setting.
This is especially important if you are introducing a pet of the same species – cats and dogs may feel threatened by another animal of the same species once they are brought home.
Find a Vet
Before bringing home your pet, choose a vet and do some research on their expertise and credentials. Look into their pricing plans, hours of operation, and location and make sure they understand and believe in the breed you are bringing home.
A good vet can be a great resource if your pet ever needs medical care. Ask the staff at your animal shelter or rescue group for referrals to trustworthy vets in the area.
Stock Up on Pet Essentials
Once you have a plan for caring for and housing your pet, it’s time to stock up on pet essentials. Toys, bedding, food, litter, and pet-proofing supplies are all items you should have on hand before bringing home your pet.
This is also a great time to get to know your pet by getting to know what their traits and preferences are. Different pets have different needs, so research their dietary, exercise and housing requirements ahead of time.
Sign Up for Health Insurance
The costs of pet care can add up quickly, and no one wants to be faced with an unexpected medical bill during a pet emergency. Pet health insurance can be an invaluable resource in such a situation.
Many insurance companies offer pet plans, which cover more common pet medical issues such as allergies, illness and injuries to name a few. Research different plans to find one that best suits your needs and budget.
Develop a Plan for Training, Exercise, and Socialization
Training, exercise, and socialization are essential aspects of proper pet care and help to ensure that your pet will be well behaved and healthy. Start training and exercising your pet as soon as possible – this will help them get comfortable with you, as well as give you the opportunity to form a bond and establish rules of behavior.
Having a plan for socialization is key for helping your pet adjust to different people and animals. If possible, introduce your pet to different animals and people in a controlled environment, such as a pet store or a safe dog park.
Adopting a pet is a huge responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly. With the right planning and preparation, you can give your pet a loving home and provide them with a safe, enriching, and fulfilling life. Consider the needs of both you and your pet and ensure that you are both prepared and ready for the journey of pet parenthood.