While pet ownership is a joy for both the owner and the pet, it is also a big commitment. Many people adopt a dog or cat, only to later discover that the responsibility is too much for them to handle. Sometimes people simply don’t have the time or resources to take care of an animal, but it usually comes down to preference more than anything. For example, many pet owners pick a pet from a local shelter, giving primary consideration to appearance. Later, they find that the animal’s temperament doesn’t mesh well with their own.
Thankfully, it’s easy to prevent this situation if you do your research. Before adopting, here are some questions you should ask yourself to make sure pet ownership is right for you.
1. Do you have the right lifestyle for pet ownership?
Lifestyle should be the primary consideration. While you may have plenty of time and energy for a pet now, remember that dogs and cats live a long time. What are you expecting over the next decade or more? If you plan any life changes, such as marriage, kids, or a new home, how will a pet factor into those situations?
2. Is everyone committed to adopting a pet?
If you live with a spouse, kids, a roommate, or any other person, how do they feel about adopting a pet? If you are planning to share pet responsibilities, it’s essential that everyone is fully committed to the idea. Even if the pet will primarily be your own responsibility, your other housemates should at least be on board. Otherwise, you could face some tough situations later.
3. Do you have wiggle room in your budget?
The financial responsibilities of pet ownership are often misunderstood. Make no mistake about it, pet ownership can be costly. Aside from food and routine care, pets can have medical emergencies, just like humans. If your pet needs expensive emergency surgery, will you have the funds to cover the bill?
4. Do you have other pets or young children?
If you already own a pet or have children, you should consider the effects of bringing a new pet into the home. Is your current pet likely to get along with a new friend? Are your children generally kind to animals? Are they responsible enough to know when a pet should be touched and when they need their space? Though there are certainly some breeds of animals that are more child-friendly than others, remember that all pets have their limits. If your children are young, they will need supervision around animals, no matter how docile the pet may be.
5. Do you travel frequently?
If you go on vacation or travel frequently for business, you will need to have a plan in place for your pets. Will you take your dog or cat with you on your trips? If not, do you have the financial resources or support system to take care of your pet while you’re away? You may be able to board your pet, but this service can be expensive, especially if you travel often. Otherwise, you will need a family member or friend who can pet sit while you are away.
Though pet ownership is never an easy decision, the benefits of owning a pet are usually worth the effort and expense. Ultimately, though, only you can decide if it’s time for a new pet or if you should wait until your circumstances change.
Check out this handy pet-proofing guide to make sure your home is safe for pets!