Questions To Ask Yourself Before Committing To Getting a New Pet

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An adorable kitten or puppy can make anyone want to bring them home. But are you ready for the demands of pet ownership? Cats and dogs are living creatures that require a lot from their owners, and not everyone is cut out for the job. Pet owners should take into consideration how their work hours, upcoming travel plans, income and patience levels could affect their furry friend. Read on for questions to ask yourself to help you decide if you are ready to commit to pet ownership. 

What is Your Work and Social Life Like?

Before purchasing or adopting a new pet, it’s a good idea to evaluate your work/life balance. Dogs and cats require love and attention, and a lifestyle involving long work hours isn’t ideal for pets. Animals should not be left alone for extended periods of time as they may develop separation-related issues.

When pets are denied adequate potty breaks, their urinary health can be affected. Consider how long your pet will realistically be left alone during the work day and whether you plan to have someone tend to them for exercise or potty breaks during the day. This is especially important for puppies and older dogs, as they may require more frequent potty breaks than young adult dogs.

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Your social life should also be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to get a pet. Going out frequently on nights and weekends has the same effect on a cat or dog as long work hours. Being left alone often can cause the pet to develop depression, lethargy or destructive tendencies. 

Owning a pet doesn’t mean you can’t go out. But it’s important to remember that owning a pet means your schedule may be affected. Unless another caretaker is available, dog owners need to feed their pets and take them outside to go potty. If you own a dog, you may need to stop home between work and other activities. If you know your schedule requires you to be gone too many hours in a row, you’ll either need to secure a reliable caretaker or consider getting a pet that can be left for longer periods of time, like a cat.

Who Else Will Be Around Your Pet?

Even if you don’t go out often, having people over frequently can affect your pet. Certain animals have high anxiety around other humans or may be on the more protective side. Factor in how your friends and family feel about pets. Does anyone have a fear of cats or dogs? Are they allergic or strongly dislike animals? It is unfair to your pet to always be put in their crate or separated in another room when company is over, especially if it happens regularly. 

How Often Do You Travel? 

Traveling is an exciting and fulfilling activity. If you plan on going on a lot of adventures without your pet, consider its effect on the animal. Like humans, pets appreciate stability and routine, and pets may develop anxiety if they’re often boarded or bouncing between pet sitter houses. Similarly, some pets are negatively affected when guest caretakers come and go frequently. A pet may become withdrawn, refuse to eat or self-mutilate if their anxiety is great enough.

Having a pet doesn’t mean your vacation days are over. But it’s wise to consider how often and for how long you realistically expect to be away before committing to caring for an animal.

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How Much Exercise Will the Pet Need? 

If you’re considering getting a new pet, make sure you’re able to ensure your pet receives enough exercise. If you don’t enjoy taking walks or throwing a ball in the yard, adopting a dog may not be a healthy option. 

The exercise needs of dogs and cats vary depending on their breed, age and personality. Daily activity requirements could be anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours for dogs and 20 minutes to one hour for cats. Vets recommend splitting up the times of exercise to at least twice a day. 

Are You Willing to Fulfill Your Pet’s Grooming Needs?

The grooming needs of cats and dogs vary depending on their age, breed, coat type and other factors, but all dogs and cats need help grooming. It’s amazing how many pet owners get a new pet without considering the routine care needs of the animal.

Dogs and cats need to have their nails trimmed and ears cleaned. They also need consistent bathing and brushing in order to maintain their skin and coat health and avoid matting. Not only should your pet receive routine professional grooming, but they should also receive consistent grooming care at home between visits. It’s important to learn of the needs of your pet’s particular breed and commit to providing them with routine care before bringing them home.

Can You Afford a Pet? 

Owning a pet is not cheap, so it’s important that pet owners evaluate whether they have the budget required to accommodate an animal’s needs. 

Cats and dogs need to be fed high quality food for their overall health and weight. They should be on a routine of scheduled grooming appointments to maintain good skin and coat health. Regular vet visit checkups are required yearly along with vaccinations. Other essential items may include bedding, crates, brushes, collars, leashes, toys and treats. Cat owners also need to purchase a cat box, litter scooper and a continual supply of cat litter. All of these are basic care items and can stretch the budget of pet owners. 

If your schedule requires hiring caretakers due to travel or extended work hours, plan for expenses for pet walking, boarding and daycare. Expenses can also add up as pets age. Different health issues may arise that require more vet care. 

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Do You Have the Patience Required to Own a Pet? 

Lots of patience is required for pets, especially when they are young or new to the home. Training can take more than six weeks depending on how consistent the owner is and how willing the pet is to learn. Certain breeds of dogs and cats like retrievers, labradors, bengals or abyssinians are known for being easy to train. 

An adopted or purchased pet may come with different behavioral problems like anxiety, hyperactivity, aggression or chewing, and training your pet will require patience. A cat or dog may do frustrating things like damaging the furniture, going potty in the house, barking/meowing excessively or attempting to escape the home. Be prepared to pet proof your home and train your animal to alter their behavior.

If an owner does not have the patience, they may verbally or physically show their frustration to the pet. This is deemed as an unproductive approach as animals learn best with positive reinforcement and in a calm environment. Learn more about training here

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Why Do You Want a Pet? 

This may be the most important question to ask yourself before deciding on getting a pet. It is vital to know you are adopting or purchasing a pet with the right intentions. People get pets for many different reasons, some of which may not be the best. These reasons include loneliness, using them as parenting practice, or choosing a certain breed simply because it’s trending on social media. The cat or dog becomes a part of the family unit. Purchasing or adopting a pet with short-term motivation that may wear off or change with circumstances is not the best motivation. 

If your children have been asking about getting a cat or dog, then talk to them about their reasons for wanting one. Young kids often get caught up in the cute factor of owning an animal. Sit down with them and go over all the work it takes to own a pet. Help them understand that pets are a long term commitment. 

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Creating a Positive Relationship for Pets and Owners

For most people, the rewards of pet ownership far exceed any hardships that may come along with it. Pets can impact our lives in very beneficial ways, and we need to return the favor by bringing them into a positive home environment. When considering whether or not to get a pet, evaluate various aspects of your personality and lifestyle to determine if it’s a good fit for both you and the animal. 

Can you give a dog or cat the quality time they deserve with love, attention and exercise? 

Are you willing and prepared to spend money on the care and required essentials for a pet? Are you able to practice patience and train your pet to curb frustrating behaviors? Will you provide the pet with routine care needs including veterinary care and both in-home and professional grooming? Are you dedicated and prepared to care for the pet long term?

Asking these questions will help you know if now is the right time to add a furry friend to the mix or if pet ownership is a good fit for you. 

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