Before you get a Pet

Ask yourself:

Why do you want a pet? Sadly many people never consider this fact. The right answer is one that includes a desire to make the life of an animal better, the wrong answer is one that involves making you feel better as a person, or making you look cool to your friends.

Are you allowed a pet where you live? Some areas have laws against certain kinds of pets. Likewise getting a pet where your landlord does not allow one is not a good choice. In either situation owners may be forced to surrender a pet they have acquired when they are legally not allowed to have one.

Do you have the financial resources to not only get, but to support a pet? The purchase price, the initial supplies, as well as on going food and medical expenses must be considered. Equally it is important to allow for emergency care costs.

Do you have time for a pet? Every pet requires a different amount of time, consider not only the daily maintenance, such as feeding, and cage cleaning, but also time devoted to bonding, training, and interacting with the pet, as to meet the pets needs for mental stimulation. If you are considering a puppy, remember that house-training takes weeks, if you have young children this could be difficult.

Is everyone in the home aware of, and in agreement with, the desire to attain a pet? Pets should never be surprise gifts, but also they should not be brought into a home that is divided on pet ownership. Even in the case where children want pets and promise to care for them, if the adult does not want a pet, a pet should not be acquired. Very likely a time will come when the child cannot care for the pet, moves away and cannot take it, or gets bored with it. What will happen to the pet if the parent is not willing to provide care for the animal?

Are their any allergy concerns? It is possible to have proper allergy tests done, but it is just as easy to go to an animal shelter or visit a friend with pets and expose oneself to potential allergens for a few days to ‘test’ to see if allergies are a concern. Where they are a concern, but a pet is still desired, a person can talk to their doctor about allergy control medications or injections.

Is your life stable enough that you can provide a lifetime home for the pet? If you can not be fairly certain that you can provide a home for the lifetime of the pet, you should not get one. This would be especially true of seniors who want a young pup or kitten, or of teenagers who may be moving out in a few years and will unlikely be able to find a rental place that allows pets.

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Photo from Wikimedia

Do you have other pets? It is always a concern bringing home a new pet, if you already have pets. For some the new pet will be a friend, for others it may be a disaster. For example Huskies, or sight hounds, may not be a good mix with cats. Even with animals who should get along, it is important to make sure both animals are up to date for vaccinations and other medical concerns.

What is the right type of pet? It is easy to say you want a dog, and fall in love with the first cute puppy you see, but there is more to it than that. Not only is it important for an owner to select the right species of pet, but also the right breed within that species, owning a Border Collie is very different than owning a Shih Tzu. Owing a few pet chickens is very different than owning a parrot.

What will happen to the pet if you suddenly cannot care for it? Will the place you are getting a pet from accept it back? Most animal shelters and reputable breeders will always take a pet back at any time during its lifetime.

Where will you get your pet from? Beware that while pet stores sell cute animals, they are low quality ones. Pet stores get their pets from mass suppliers, often the animals are not even handled prior to arriving at the store, this means they are less friendly than those from a reputable breeder. Suppliers have done nothing to ensure the parents are genetically sound. Pet stores, after all, are stores, their main goal is profit. To get the most profit they buy cheap, and sell high. Reputable breeders are those who have taken the parent animals to shows to prove their worthiness as breeding animals, they will stand behind their animals, offering health and genetic guarantees. Reputable breeders only sell purebred, registered animals. Back-yard-breeders are people who just happen to own a pet and allowed it to breed, they seldom offer guarantees of any kinds, pets may be registered, or not. Animal shelters screen potential owners and have lower prices because they are usually non-profit. Pet shelters generally have the best selection, and will usually have a limited health guarantee.

Is this the right time to get a pet? If you are considering making some big changes at home, or going on a holiday, this probably is not the right time to get a pet.

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Photo from Wikimedia

Is your home ‘pet ready’? For dogs this may mean a fully fenced yard, for cats it might mean having a litter box. For caged pets this may mean do you have space for a decent sized cage, remember some animals, such as lizards, will grow to very large sizes, if you do not have room for a 8 x 8 foot place for an Iguana now, you probably won’t by the time it gets that big either.

Pet ownership can be a rewarding experience, if you take the time to research your pet correctly and consider all aspects of pet care, it will be just as rewarding for the pet.

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