Whether you’ve had pets before, have them now or are a total newbie at the whole pet thing, you know you want a friend, a fuzzy companion, something to cuddle and take care of. That’s what pets are so great for — they’re always there for you, they always provide a warm body to cuddle with and they are so darn loyal.
But before you can go running out to get a new pet, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Think you’re ready for the responsibility? Here are some of the top things to consider before you go on the search for your new BFF.
Type of Pet
For starters, what kind of pet do you want? Dog, cat, rabbit, fish, bird? Do you want it to live in a cage or roam freely about your house or apartment? Do you want a pet that’s high-maintenance or low-maintenance? Large or small?
Figure out what kind of pet you have your eye on before you even think about anything else.
Think about why you want a pet in the first place. If the answer is simply, “Oh, they’re just so cute; I have to have an animal!” that’s not good enough. If you can answer this question by saying things like, “I want the responsibility of caring for another living thing” or “I want a companion that I can love for a long time,” then you might be ready.
If you have children, you can’t just cave every time they tell you they want a new pet. You have to take into consideration the age of the person or people who will be caring for the pet that you are adopting as well as several other factors.
Don’t just get a new pet “because you want one.” Know that it requires a lot of responsibility and a lot of care.
Do you have the necessary funds to first adopt and then continually care for the new pet you are thinking about? Expenses can add up between the cost of food, spay/neuter surgeries, shots, maintenance surgeries that come up throughout their lives, flea control, disease prevention, grooming, training lessons… The list can go on and on.
Figure out if a pet will realistically fit into you or your family’s budget before you move ahead with the adoption.
Are you an active person, or would you rather relax and lie around all day? If you are active and enjoy being outside, a pet that requires a lot of exercise would be suitable for you; but if not, you’d be better off perhaps with a caged pet, like a turtle, or an indoor pet, like a cat.
Also think about how often you travel or move. If you’re away from home a lot, who will take care of the new pet that you will be leaving behind? Can you afford to board it? And if you move often — how often? Will a new pet really be suited to having to adjust to these constant changes in scenery?
If you’re renting an apartment, before you get a pet you must first check with your landlord on the building policies. Many rental properties do not allow the keeping of pets in their rentals, so you may be out of luck. Others, though, may allow caged animals.
If you’re living in a rental that allows pets right now, what will happen when you move? Will you be willing to sacrifice some housing possibilities because the potential properties do not allow pets?
How much time do you have to commit to a new pet? If you work around the clock, getting a pet at this point probably wouldn’t be the best idea. But if you have the opportunity to spend a good amount of time at home, it might be worth considering.
The amount of time you have to dedicate to a pet will help you determine what kind to adopt, as some pets require more attention and more maintenance than others.
If you are thinking about a pet such as a dog that will need to be housebroken, are you willing to put forth the energy to go through the process? And are you willing to let accidents happen in your house? Well, they do happen!
Accidents are part of potty training for any pet, so if you are unprepared for or unwilling to deal with them, maybe a pet that requires training isn’t for you.
If you currently have other pets or young children, you’ll need to do some research on how the pet you’re looking to get can handle these interactions. Many animals are not tolerant of being held and may lash out in some way at a child who attempts to handle them.
Avoid these accidents by knowing how your future pet may deal with current pets and children.
If it’s a dog in particular or an outdoor cat that you are thinking about adopting, evaluate the outdoor space that you have available. Is it enclosed, or will you have to also invest in a fence to keep your pet safely contained?
If you are getting a dog, make sure you have ample space for it to run around and play and expend some of its natural energy; otherwise its energy could turn into aggression if you keep it indoors at all times. If you live in an apartment that does not have a yard, just make sure you take your dog out frequently for walks (more time commitment) and play with it for a good amount of time when you are home.
The best way to get a new pet once you’ve decided that you do, in fact, want one and can afford one and have the time to care for one is to adopt.
Adopting a new pet can save the animal’s life. They may have been abandoned or abused by previous owners and ended up at a shelter in search of a new, warm, loving home. Animals in shelters are usually up to date with their vaccines and are relatively inexpensive to adopt.
If you are in the market for a dog or puppy, avoid purchasing one from a mall pet shop that has a bunch of puppies on display. These animals are from puppy mills, where their parents are treated with cruelty, not allowed to roam freely and often suffer diseases and injuries that go unnoticed for long periods of time.
These illnesses can often be passed down to the puppy, and a new owner will buy a puppy from a pet store that sells them not knowing that they’re getting a sick animal. It’s a cruel way to obtain a pet, especially knowing that by adopting, you can literally save an animal’s life.
When you finally get your pet, you’ll quickly realize that it will become your best friend, your companion, your baby. Pets are often treated like children or members of the family. Every pet deserves a loving home, and if you’re ready to provide one, check with your local animal shelter to see what pets are available for adoption.
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This featured contribution was written by Ann Michaels. Ann is a freelance writer who loves her pets! She even has dog statues on her lawn resembling her own pups. She can’t stress enough how wonderful it is to adopt and care for a pet in need! (Photo: Mosman Council/Flickr)
Pets to Avoid for Apartment Living
The following infographic highlights some pets that work well in apartments, and others that don’t.
Infographic developed by ForRent.com