Are you ready for a pet? As cute and cuddly as pets are, they’re also a big commitment that requires years of money, time and love. Before you add a pet to your family, make sure you have answers to these five important questions.
Failure to address these concerns can have a negative impact on the life of the pet. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of dogs and cats dropped on the highway after an inexperienced owner decided -- after the fact -- that caring for a living creature was too expensive or time consuming. Listen to your gut and be honest in your answers. If you have reservations about pet parenthood, wait. Making a hasty decision here could result in your once-beloved pet becoming a burden or, worse, another abandoned animal at your local shelter.
Can my home accommodate a pet?
Not all homes are suited for pets. If you live in a rental that’s not pet-friendly, adopting an animal could land you in trouble. Renters must commit to only renting pet-friendly homes and paying associated pet fees for the life of their companion.
Consider your space as well. Small homes with little backyard to speak of aren’t a good fit for large dogs, but small canines can be accommodated with daily walks. Cats are easy to fit in most homes as long as you have space for a litter box.
Am I OK with pet messes?
Fur, dander, the occasional vomit stain — messes like these come with the territory of pet ownership. Owning a pet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a stylish, chic home, as these images from Laurel and Wolf demonstrate, but you do need to be comfortable giving up spotlessness. And of course, make sure you have a plan for getting those pet stains and odors out of your carpet. The longer a mess sits, the harder it is to remove. Have supplies on hand so you can respond to accidents when they happen.
What do I want from pet ownership?
Know your intentions for adopting a pet. Do you want to beat loneliness at home, become more active, or incorporate a new pet into your favorite recreational activities? While it’s fine to want a cute companion, pets are about more than appearances. Understanding what you want from the pet ownership experience will help you choose the right species and breed for you.
Can I afford a pet?
Pets cost money! Not only is there a large up-front cost in the form of adoption fees, pet supplies, and initial vet visits, but pet owners must also plan for ongoing expenses. Beyond the bare minimum of food, litter and toys, you’ll need to budget for annual wellness visits, vaccine boosters, dental cleanings, flea, tick, and heartworm preventative, and grooming, walking, training, and boarding expenses. Some cities also require owners to register their pets for a fee.
According to Real Simple, routine pet expenses come out to approximately $1,000 per year for dogs and cats, but the costs don’t stop there. In addition to budgeting for routine expenses, owners should also set aside funds for veterinary emergencies. Accidents can happen at any time, and you don’t want to be in a position where your pet’s life depends on your budget.
Do I have time for a pet?
All the money in the world won’t give you a good relationship with your pet. To experience the true joys of pet ownership, you need time. While dogs are the most time-consuming pets, requiring training, affection, and walks on a daily basis, all domestic animals desire the time and attention of their humans. If you have a busy schedule and are rarely home, you may be better off playing with friends’ pets than adopting one of your own. But if you have a structured routine and can commit a couple of hours per day to your companion, you’re in a good position to add a pet to the family.
Adopting a pet shouldn’t be an impulse purchase. Before you adopt a pet that will be part of your life for a decade or more, make sure you’re prepared for the realities of pet ownership. When you head into pet ownership ready for the challenges ahead, you can provide the best life possible for your pet and reap the rewards of a loving, devoted companion.