Responsible Pet Ownership

Considering adopting or purchasing a pet is a lot like planning for a baby. You may have been dreaming of it for years but you have no idea what comes with the package. The more you prepare yourself for a life with a new family member, the better the chance you have of enjoying it. Read on to learn about nine vital things to consider before making your dream of owning a pet come true.

1. Coughing and Sneezing: Do You Have Pet Allergies?

According to the Allergy And Asthma Foundation of America, about 30% of Americans are allergic to dogs or cats. If you are planning to get a dog or a cat, make sure to check if you have these allergic reactions. There are two ways to do it:

  • Spend sufficient time in a household with a cat or dog.
  • Talk to an allergist.

The first one is easier but it may not tell you the truth since allergies are usually cumulative. So, you may need to spend a month in a house with a pet to find out if you are allergic. A doctor will offer an allergen-specific antibody test to find out what you are allergic to. Don’t be scared, it is just a blood test.

Some people overlook the allergies and get a pet anyway. In this case, you may need to take medication and get an air purifier to deal with the symptoms. If you have allergies, check out a few hypoallergenic pet options.

2. Daily Regimen: Do You Like to Sleep In?

Each pet has their own needs and a daily regimen. For example, dogs need to take a walk early in the morning. Hamsters prefer doing their loud sawdust digging during the night. Cats love having breakfast at 5:00 a.m.

Are you ready to adjust your lifestyle to the needs of a pet? If you love to sleep in but live in an apartment, you may not want to get a dog. If you want to keep the pet in your bedroom, loud night dwellers are out of the question.

3. Utter Loneliness: Do You Enjoy Traveling?

Consider your schedule. How often are you away from home? If you need to take frequent business trips or love traveling, what awaits your pet? Large pets, such as cats and dogs, require daily attention. If you cannot provide it, think about getting something smaller, such as a rabbit or a hamster.

In any case, even if the animal doesn’t feel sad or lost without the owner, it needs to be fed. Do you have someone who can feed your pet while you are away?

4. Money, Money, Money: Can You Afford It?

Pets usually require a significant investment, especially if you get a baby pet. Special food, vaccinations, medication, grooming and more can add up quickly. Doing a little research about the expenses can help you make a decision. Perhaps you need to save some money before getting a pet.

Let’s not forget the cost of the pet itself. If you are after a special breed rather than picking one up from a shelter, how much will it cost you? Some breeds are surprisingly expensive.

5. Housing: Do You Have the Space?

Pets usually require a lot of space to feel comfortable. Besides, you need to provide them with a variety of bells and whistles, such as a bed, a food bowl, a litter box, etc. Do you have space to house all these things?

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6. Interaction: Do You Have Small Children?

Is your child begging for a pet? While a 10-year-old can be a big help with taking care of a pet, a 2-year-old might become a hazard. How active is your toddler? In many cases, toddlers view a pet like a toy and act accordingly. Small pets may suffer and even die if handled inappropriately.

So if you have an active, little kid, either get a bigger pet or wait a year or two.

7. Training: Can You Say, 'Fetch!'

Right now, we are talking about dogs, since other pets don’t require a lot of training. Most dog breeds need training as much as they need air. Otherwise, they become intolerable and are often abandoned. Do you have the time and the patience to train a dog every day? Not training a dog is akin to not sending your child to school. The teacher here is you. Are you up for it?

8. Desires: What Pet Do You Want?

Perhaps we should have put this point above all others, but a responsible owner to be should consider the pet’s wishes before their own.

What kind of pet do you want? Or even better: What do you want from your pet? Do you need a furry little ball to sleep in your bed or a cute troublemaker to go on morning runs with? Do you want to enjoy physical contact, or is thoughtful observation sufficient? Choose wisely.

9. Commitment: Are You Ready to Put Up With a Pet?

Any pet is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. We are talking about the character. Even the sweetest, fluffiest kitten may turn out to be a real hell-raiser. But no one will tell you about it in advance. You may not find out until months later. What will you do?

Many people opt for abandoning their pets. Will you stick with your pet no matter what? If you are not sure, consider getting a smaller pet, such as a hamster or a Guinea pig. Remember, there are no bad pets. There are only bad owners. Be responsible about getting a pet and you won’t need to make tough decisions in the future.