An impressive 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet, so if you’re among the remaining 32 percent, there are a few key things you should know before contributing to the majority.
Even though many people compare pets to having kids and millennials are opting for a furry friend in lieu of an actual baby, these are two completely different scenarios. What is accurate is that pets are a full-time responsibility and even with proper training, they’re animals — not humans — so impatient or easily irritated individuals need not apply. You’re going to have to have enough money in the bank to care for them properly to include regular doctor’s visits, food, toys and additional medical expenses should they become ill. Still reading? Good. Then you’re ready to find out how to choose the perfect pet and make their transition — and yours — as easy as possible.
Determining What Type Of Pet
While you may be a bona fide dog or cat person, you’ve got to put the animal’s needs before yours when choosing a pet. Here are some factors to consider:
Size of Your Living Space: If you live in a studio apartment, a Siberian husky isn’t going to work as sizeable dogs need ample space to play and move around — and so do you. Consider smaller breeds such as a Yorkshire Terrier, Dachshund, Bichon Frise, or French Bulldog if you’re set on having a pooch. Otherwise, a cat is a great option providing you set up a tree and/or scratching post (ideally, near a window) to keep it from becoming bored.
Your Schedule: Unless you’re going to hire a dog walker to handle your duties while you’re at work (a great option for vacation, illness, or occasional schedule mishaps), it’s difficult to own a dog as it needs to go outside between three and five times a day — this is particularly important if you want to prevent any poor bathroom habits indoors. Aside from relieving themselves, it’s crucial that dogs have an outlet for expelling energy, lest you find chewed up shoes and table legs at home.
Who’s Living With You: If you’ve got grandpa living with you, a rambunctious toddler, and another one on the way, make sure you research which pets sync best with the elderly, children and babies. A low-maintenance choice like a senior cat or dog is a good idea as your hands are already full. Since these golden oldies have less energy, they’re liable to want sleep time more than engage in playtime. Just make sure you’re monitoring any potential illnesses that come with age as animals can express pain through aggression.
Allergies: Before even looking for a pet, make sure you get tested for allergies. Many people think they can “deal” with the sniffles and itchy eyes until they decide it’s time to surrender the animal to a shelter. This is extremely traumatic for an animal, so prevent this from happening by doing your due diligence first — this goes for everyone living under your roof.
Preparation and Acclimation
Preparation obviously depends on the animal, but the basics include a comfortable bed, food and water dishes, a litter box, collar and leash, a muzzle, treats for reward during behavioral training, and plenty of toys to keep them amused. Make sure your pet becomes acclimated to your home (to include the location of its essentials) and family before introducing it to outsiders. Let them take their time exploring. If they hide (especially cats), don’t pry them out from under the bed or you’re liable to promote stress.
The intense bond one experiences with their pet is likely the driving force behind ownership. Make time each day to engage with your animal, whether that’s playtime indoors or a stroll in the park. Just keep in mind that the biggest drawback from having such a connection is the heartbreaking feeling that comes with losing a furry companion. While there’s no way to truly prepare yourself for it, it’s definitely something to consider before becoming a committed pet owner.
Written By: Jessica Brody