When you have children, you’re bound to face one question at some point down the line – “can we get a pet?”
While it can be easy to simply say yes, you need to make sure that you’re genuinely ready to take on this responsibility before agreeing. At the end of the day, a pet isn’t a toy and you will ultimately take on care of this animal – as much as your child may claim that they’ll do everything that’s needed to look after their new fluffy or feathered friend.
Before going ahead, here are some things to take into consideration if you are considering a pet for your family.
Pets Are for Life
The first and most important thing you need to take into consideration when getting a pet is that a pet is for life. Increasing numbers of people have got pets throughout the pandemic, but as life is returning to normal and people may be being expected to return to work from nine to five and want to spend more time getting back to their out of the house social activities, huge numbers of pets are ending up in animal shelters. This is awful.
When you get a pet, you need to make sure that you are committed to it for life. The average life expectancy for a dog is 15 years. The average life expectancy for a cat can be 20. Before you get any animal, you need to question whether you will be able to realistically meet the animal’s needs for the next couple of decades. If the answer is no, then you need to not get the pet in the first place.
Know Potential Pets’ Needs
Different pets require different levels of care. At a basic level, all pets will need:
- Love and attention
- Veterinary treatment
- Regular treatments such as worming and flea treatments
These things all require time, money, and emotional investment. Ensure that you can afford everything your pet needs, that you can give your pet the time they need to feel loved and to be trained and space they need to live.
Adopt Don’t Shop
Keeping in line with the huge increase of pets in shelters right now, if you do decide to get a pet and are sure that you can meet its needs for the next couple of decades, you should seriously consider adopting rather than buying an animal from a breeder. There are so many animals already out there in need of a loving home.
Take a look at some of the animals in the shelter and choose one of these rather than creating demand for more animals to be bred. Shelters have pets of all breeds and ages. Make sure that you know about the animal you’re adopting and that you can cater to its needs. Different rescues have different personalities. Some will have trauma and may not be able to be kept with other animals. Some may prefer to not be around people of a certain age. Make sure you can provide the appropriate environment for the animal before taking it on.
When choosing a dog, avoid making your decision based on looks alone. Sure, there are likely to be breeds that you find cuter than others, but your main decision should be based on breed characteristics.
Certain dogs were originally bred for certain purposes, so you need to make sure that the dog’s in-bred characteristics suit your day-to-day life. For example, a Bichon Frise is bred for companionship. If you have lots of time and want a very loving dog, they are an ideal match for you. However, if you are going to be out of the house for long hours, the dog will likely experience separation anxiety.
If you choose an Australian Shepherd, you need to make sure that you have time for long walks and a large backyard to provide the dog with sufficient exercise, as they were originally bred to herd sheep and consequently have a lot of energy to burn off.
When choosing a cat, you may, again, need to look into breeds. Some breeds have different requirements and may require more time investment or financial investment when it comes to care. For example, a cat with long hair will require daily brushing and grooming, while a cat with shorter hair may be lower maintenance.
If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at some Famous Cats of The Internet, which will be able to help you to identify different breeds and character types. If you do get a cat, try to make sure that you keep it as an indoor cat. Wildlife associations across the world often note that the most damaging thing you can do to local wildlife is to let your cat roam free. Cats kill wildlife without needing prey for food.
Rodents such as rabbits, hamsters, mice, and rats may seem smaller so lower maintenance. But remember that with pets like these, you are going to spend a lot of time cleaning out their cages. This can be messy work and you need to commit to it in order to get along with this animal in your home.
Like rodents, birds have cages that need to be cleaned regularly too. You also have to commit to letting your bird out of the cage to spread their wings, which means flying around your home and potentially making a mess as they go, as generally, they cannot be house trained.
As you can see, getting a pet is no small decision. At the end of the day, these are sentient beings that will rely entirely on you for their care. You’re going to have to spend a lot of money on them, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time on them and you’re going to have to care for them as you would a child. So, question whether you’re truly ready for this commitment before throwing yourself in the deep end.