If you’re a parent or caregiver, you’ve probably been asked if you can get a pet on more than one occasion. In fact, your kid’s Christmas or birthday gift lists may have featured an array of animals over the years!
Although owning a pet can be a lot of work, it does offer endless rewards. Providing you’re prepared for everything pet ownership entails, welcoming a new addition to your home could be the best thing you ever do. To find out whether your family’s ready for pet ownership, take a look at this handy checklist now…
Children will often ask for a pet without really thinking about the realities of caring for an animal. If their friends have recently got a dog, for example, you might be on the receiving end of numerous requests for a puppy, even if your child isn’t overly keen on dogs!
Before you consider getting a pet, give your child the opportunity to spend more time around animals. Once the novelty has worn off, do they enjoy spending time with the animal? Are they nervous or overwhelmed? Do they treat the animal gently and respect its boundaries?
With the right encouragement, children can learn how to interact with animals but, if your kid gets bored after a few minutes or doesn’t particularly enjoy being around animals, it might be a sign that he or she isn’t ready for pet ownership.
If you enjoy going on last-minute holidays or you’re constantly out of the house at one activity or another, you need to consider whether this would suit a pet. Dogs can’t be left on their own for long periods of time, for example, so you’d need to assess whether a dog could accompany you on trips or whether you’d be happy to change your lifestyle.
Generally, cats can be left alone for longer periods of time than dogs, but they still require a decent amount of interaction. Similarly, horses need to be checked on at least twice a day, feed, exercised and their stables cleaned.
Take a look at your weekly schedule and be honest about how a pet would fit into it. With the right preparation, it may be possible for you to make changes so that you can take on a pet.
Pet ownership can be expensive, so you’ll want to ensure that you’re financially prepared for everything that’s involved. As well as initial purchase or rehoming costs, you’ll need to consider the on-going expenses that are required.
Food, toys and vaccinations can quickly add up, and you’ll need to set some of your budget aside for bedding and grooming too. Fortunately, online stores, like Time for Paws, can significantly lower the cost of pet essentials. By finding the right vendor, you can dramatically cut the cost of caring for your pet.
Veterinary bills can be notoriously costly, so decide whether or not pet insurance would be a better option for your family. Do be aware, however, that not all pet insurance policies are the same, so check exactly what costs are covered before you sign up.
Pets require a significant amount of exercise and stimulation. While younger members of the family may be 100% committed to this at the start…the novelty can wear off quite quickly! If your kids are convinced that they’ll spend hours walking a dog or playing with a kitten, make sure they understand how often they’ll need to exercise and entertain a pet.
If you have close friends or family members with a pet, consider asking them to come and stay. Letting your family be around a pet for an extended period of time will give you a glimpse into what the day-to-day duties of pet ownership entail.
Of course, if you’re looking for ways to improve your fitness or get more exercise, a pet can be a great source of motivation. When you have to head out to walk the dog, for example, you’ll find it easier than ever to increase your fitness levels.
Before you decide whether or not you’re ready for pet ownership, consider how long you’re prepared to commit for. Dogs, cats and horses can live for 15+ years, so you need to be in it for the long haul if you’re welcoming a pet like this into your family.
However, other animals don’t tend to have such a long lifespan. Hamsters typically live for 2-3 years in captivity, for example, while rats usually live until around the age of 4. If you’re looking for a pet that can join your family but doesn’t require a commitment that could spend 10 years or more, these animals might be the best option.
If you’re seriously considering getting a pet, ask yourself how much you know about them? It’s easy to imagine owning a dog but, if you’ve never had a pet before, you might not have a realistic idea of what’s involved. Furthermore, every breed or species is different, so owning a pet previously is no guarantee that you’ll find owning a different animal easy.
Make researching a potential pet a family activity. This will help everyone to understand exactly what pet ownership involves and help you to decide who will take on what responsibilities. In addition to this, learning more about potential pets will help you to choose the right animal to welcome into your family.
Getting a Family Pet
If you’ve decided you’re ready for pet ownership, you might be eager to get a pet right away. However, it can take time to find the perfect addition for a family, so don’t rush into things. Of course, you’ll need to ensure that you have all the essentials at home too. By taking your time and waiting for the right pet to come along, you can be sure that you’ll be able to give them the long, happy and healthy life they deserve.