A pet, also known as companion animal is kept primarily for a person’s company, protection, entertainment and sometimes simply because of its appearance. Some people decide to become pet owners because they feel lonely, others because they want to take care of someone other than themselves, and some may even seek the benefits that a domestic animal can bring. Either way, owning a pet can improve the quality of our lives in a number of ways such as socially, physically and emotionally. As mentioned, cats and dogs have always been the most popular pets living in Western countries. However, some rodents, reptiles, aquatic animals, birds and even arthropod pets have increased their presence in people’s homes worldwide so much so that many animal right associations have raised concerns over pet-keeping.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that once we decide to welcome another living being into our home, it will depend on us for all of its basic needs so we must be absolutely sure that we will be up for the task and ready to return the love we’ll get from our new furry friend.
You may have spoken with family friends who have just welcomed a new puppy, watched a documentary on newborn kittens or simply always wanted an aquarium filled with beautiful tropical fish...And now you find yourself thinking about taking “the big step” of adding a new family member into your life! If this sounds like you, know that you are not alone and millions of people are probably going through the same thought process at the same time.
The first and most important question you should ask yourself is “WHY do you want a pet?”. You may be feeling lonely or your children may have been begging for a new puppy, or you simply want to help one of the myriad of abandoned animals available at animal shelters. Whatever the reason behind your desire to adopt a furry friend, it is essential that you don’t make a rushed decision. Too many people believe they are ready to take care of another living being without stopping for a second to really think this through.
Making such a huge change to your lifestyle cannot happen in the spree of the moment because an animal has physical and emotional needs just as a human being.
Once you’ve answered the main question and found the reason behind your choice to adopt a pet, you’ll have to make sure your lifestyle will allow sufficient time to care for a new cat or puppy.
If you work full time and have a variety of activities to attend each day you probably won’t have enough free time to dedicate to a pet that is waiting for you at home. Maybe you have very young children who keep you busy all day and your only spare time is dedicated to sleep. Or you could be a full-time student with a part-time job who spends time at home only to shower and get a few hours of rest. Neither of these lifestyles are suitable for a companion animal as it will need you to either exercise, play or clean its living space on a daily basis. If you’re constantly exhausted by your routine chances are a pet wouldn’t be able to get quality time with you. Despite being domesticated, pets can’t live their life alone in the house as they depend on humans for food, physical activity, entertainment, training, grooming and so much more.
So before moving to the next step, be absolutely sure that you will have the time required to interact, bond and care for your furry friend.
If you’ve established time is not an issue and you’ve ticked this requirement off the list, you can proceed to another important matter: money. Just as any living being, pets too will put a dent of some sort in your wallet.
Starting with the adoption fee which most breeders or shelters will charge to adopt a pet that has been vaccinated, neutered and microchipped and continuing on with the most basic of needs: food.
The cost of a pet will obviously vary depending on the animal species you’ve chosen but none will be completely free. Some pets may require higher maintenance expenses while others may cost you more in constant training, and some may need frequent grooming with specific products. Whether you’ve decided to adopt a horse, a dog, cat or any other companion you’ll need to make sure you can afford supporting another life from now on. Don’t just stop to consider an animal’s dietary requirements but take into account that just like humans it could face an emergency requiring astronomical vet bills. Think about the big picture and consider the future: you may decide to go on a holiday to a country where your pet is not allowed or you may welcome a baby that will increase your outgoing expenses even more.
If you’re unsure what kind of cost to expect with the new addition, do some research online or ask a breeder for some advice.
Having a welcoming environment for a new pet doesn’t only mean being mentally prepared and well-disposed to find companionship in an animal. Your living space will also need to be suitable for your new friend. First of all, if you’re renting your landlord will need to grant permission for you to house an animal companion. A small apartment may no doubt be inappropriate for some extra-large dog breeds but it may be the perfect choice for an aquarium. In case you are a home-owner there won’t be the need to ask for permission to adopt a pet however you may still be required to submit a request to the building management. Be sure to consider your living situation before moving contacting a breeder or animal rescue centre. You may live on the top floor of a high-rise which could be dangerous if you’ve decided to adopt a parrot or even a kitten as they may be at risk of escaping through the window or jumping off the balcony. A backyard could be the ideal recreational space for a small puppy but a turtle may find an escape avenue through the fence.
Another important factor to consider is the level of safety your home can provide for your new pet: be sure that no wild animal can access your house through a window or garden while you’re out, and keep your place tidy with no sharp or small object laying around for your kitten to accidentally swallow. And remember that despite being animals, pets do require a certain level of hygiene around them as this will prevent them from contracting diseases or infections that could also be transferred onto you and your family members.
Adopting a living being can deeply change your lifestyle and that of those living with you. Everyone involved in such a life-changing decision will be affected so it is vital that each and every family member is ready to commit and enjoy the new addition.
If you’ve decided to adopt a dog begin discussing its arrival with your partner and/or children. Make sure you are all on the same page and aware of the responsibilities.
If you live with flatmates, don’t impose your choice and discuss the possibility of welcoming that new kitten you saw up for adoption at the shelter. Someone living with you may be afraid or allergic to pets so try not to make a decision that could affect their wellbeing and peace of mind.
Being a pet owner can be even more of a pleasure if everyone fully appreciates the beauty and commitment that this role involves.
Sharing such a responsibility can also be of great help when it is time to face unforeseen circumstances such as sudden visits to the vet, illness or simply pleasant events like going on a holiday with the entire family.
Last but not least in your priorities when wanting to adopt an animal companion is to find the right pet for you!
If you’ve carefully reviewed all of the steps in this article and think that you are ready to adopt and enrich your life then you’ll only need to choose the right companion.
Once you’ve set your mind on a species - dog, cat, horse, rabbit, fish or any other - begin your research. Lay out your expectations and criteria, involve your family and spend the time you feel necessary based on what you’re looking for in a pet. Contact reputable breeders only and animal shelters that you know will be able to provide you with guidance throughout the process. Speak with other pet owners and maybe watch some documentary or read books that may give you further useful information.
There are also plenty of articles on our website that will give you insight on adoption, life with a pet and many more subjects involving our animal companions.