When you’re getting ready to look for your first pet, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. And it is exciting. But it is also a responsibility that must be taken seriously from the beginning.
Picking the right pet
While there are dozens of different types of pet, we will focus on cats and dogs, which are overwhelmingly the most popular in the United States. It can be difficult to choose between a free-spirited feline and a cozy and codependent canine. Cats are more independent, don’t require much space and have no need to be exercised. Dogs, on the other hand, crave human interaction, need room to roam and must have the opportunity to expend energy. Some breeds require more hands-on attention, so ask your friends and family for ideas on breeds that fit your lifestyle.
A companion for life
Bringing a new pet into your home is much like having a human child. You can’t consider it a trial run, it’s a commitment to love, care for, and protect another living being. Pets Best Pet Health Insurance explains that you should ask yourself whether or not you have time for your dog, if you’re willing to care for him properly, and if you have the space for the pet you want. You must consider your health and whether or not you are physically able to care for a dog. If you or your children have allergies to pet dander or saliva, you will need to establish how you will handle this.
If time is a concern, you might want to consider a cat that will more or less take care of themselves if given food and water. You can still have a dog and keep him happy and healthy even if you work long hours or travel frequently. A pet sitter, dog walker, or family member may help fill in the gaps of time when you’re not available.
Prep and landing
Once you’ve finally made the decision, it’s time to prep your home for the new arrival. Start by securing the perimeter by making sure your fence doesn’t have holes or gaps that your pet could sneak through should he become interested in the outside world. Inside, eliminate hazards including potentially poisonous houseplants, open chemicals, crafting materials such as ribbons and rubber bands and human medicine. The Humane Society of the United States offers more detailed information on dangers both in and outdoors and offers advice on how to protect your pet from each.
Before bringing home your new pet, you’ll also need to invest in the appropriate gear. This includes a crate, bedding, food and water bowls, a leash and collar and toys. Do your research and find a local veterinarian that comes well recommended and had hours that work with your schedule. Set your dog’s first appointment for within a few days of bringing him home – sooner if possible. Your dog’s veterinarian can administer potentially life-saving routine vaccines and perform tests for any issues you may not have considered, including heartworms. You will also be given options on the type of flea and tick medicine that’s best for your breed and budget.
The safety of your pet falls squarely on your shoulders. According to the Animal Humane Society, you can prevent the likelihood that your pet will become lost or stolen by ensuring that he or she wears a collar and ID tags at all times. Pet microchipping can also help ensure your animal is returned if he accidentally runs off. Have your pet spayed or neutered, which may reduce his or her desire to roam alone.
Perhaps the most fulfilling part of owning a pet is the bond that you will share. The Daily Treat blog by Rover notes that communication is the key in gaining your dog’s respect and laying the foundation of a healthy relationship. Your dog communicates by actions. Get on the floor and play with him, take him for plenty of walks and don’t get angry throughout the training process. You can reinforce your bonds by asserting yourself as a leader and being consistent in your role as the alpha of your pack.
Considering that your dog or cat can actually help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life, there’s no reason to forgo a furry friend. But do your research and make a choice that makes sense. Not all breeds are alike and since a pet is a lifelong commitment, you’ll want to take every precaution to ensure that you and the animal are comfortable with your new family member(s).