Getting your first family pet is a huge moment for everyone. You’re expanding the family and taking on another living being under your roof. With another life involved, however, you should take time to figure out if a family pet is indeed a good decision. There are many things that first-time pet owners fail to consider when they adopt a dog or cat. As a result, the shock of how difficult taking care of a pet can be leads them to surrender it back to a shelter.
The cost of owning and taking care of a pet can easily reach hundreds of dollars per year. In fact, according to ASPCA, first-year expenses can sum up to nearly $2,000. Adoption fees alone can cost you upwards of $500. Then there is the cost of food, insurance, toys, treats, bedding, vaccines, regular checkups, and grooming.
Apart from monetary cost, you’ll also be spending time to raise your pet. Dogs will need to be let out at least twice a day so they can pee and poop. If you adopt a high-energy breed or a puppy, you’ll be doing longer walks or doing visits to a nearby dog park, which can take you an hour or two each visit. For those with limited time on their hands, you can get pets that don’t require as much hands-on attention as a dog. Cats, lizards, and fish are all less time-consuming when it comes to maintenance and care.
The larger the animal, the more space/territory he/she will need. A Mastiff or Great Dane, for instance, will struggle to live in a 200-square foot studio apartment. Only adopt big breeds if you have the space to house them. And it’s not just the space meant for the pet. Their bedding, food and water bowl, toys, and supplies will also consume a considerable amount of space in your household.
Your neighborhood might have legal restrictions when it comes to what animal you bring home. In some apartment buildings, certain dog breeds are not allowed, the most common of which are Akita and American Pit Bull. Health restrictions can also limit what types of pet you can adopt into your family, such as if you have a child who is allergic to fur or has asthma.
As domesticated as they are, pets still have a lot to learn when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. They may track mud inside the house, essentially ruining your tiles and rugs, bring home pests, like ticks and fleas, accidentally pee and poop on your bed, and so on. Dogs and cats naturally shed their fur and can leave it sticking in furniture, clothing, etcetera. Consider investing in the best vacuum for pet hair and other pet cleaning supplies to avoid accumulation indoors. For smaller critters, like rabbits and hamsters, you’ll need to change the bedding and clean the crate at least once a month.
Different pets have different personalities. Some dogs will be aloof while others are needy. Knowing what kind of pet behavior your family can handle is important to maintain a safe environment for both your family and the animal. Only take on a problematic pet if you have professional experience in animal behavioral training. That being said, some behavioral traits in pets develop later on and are unavoidable.
Introducing a pet into your family can affect your lifestyle as a whole. Families who travel a lot may find it expensive and a hassle to book flights with their pet or find trustworthy boarding facilities. On the other hand, those who are homebodies and prefer to stay indoors when they aren’t working could find it difficult to care for a highly active dog who needs to go outside to dog parks and hiking trails every few hours.
Getting your first family pet is an exciting time for both you and your children. There are many reasons why you should adopt a pet – it can help teach your kids about responsibility, improve the pet’s quality of life, and create a more enjoyable and less stressful household environment and familial dynamics. Use this article as a checklist to see if you are ready to take on a pet before you actually head to a nearby adoption center.