Are you ready for a new pet?

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Articles by Animal Hospital of Salinas

VETERINARY ARTICLES

Are You Ready for a New Pet?

When you adopt a pet, no matter what type, you take responsibility for making sure its most basic needs are met. Before you adopt a pet you should consider whether you are able to provide everything it needs, not only in the short term, but also for the whole life of the pet. The needs of the pet will differ based on type of animal and even type of breed. The following may not apply to all pets, but should give you a good idea of what to consider before adopting.

  1. Reasons for Adopting a Pet: Are you looking for companionship or do you need the pet to be able to perform a certain task (such as a herding dog.) Do you want a pet to travel with you, cuddle with you, protect you or go running with you? Certain types of pets and certain breeds of pets are more suited for different activities. If you have questions regarding a certain type or breed of pet’s ability to fit into your lifestyle ask your veterinarian. Another good reference for dog breeds is “The Perfect Puppy” written by Benjamin L. Hart, DVM and Lynette A. Hart. If you are adopting a pet as a companion for your child make sure you as a parent are willing to step in and care for the needs of the pet if your child is not able or willing to provide the pet with what it needs.
  2. Experience with Pets: Some types of pets are not for first time pet owners while others are excellent ‘starter’ pets. Do some research into the type of pet you are interested in getting. If it requires a lot of care, training and/or a very specific environment it may not be a good choice as a first pet.
  3. Human Medical Issues: Your choice of type of pet may be influenced by whether anyone in your family is allergic to certain types of pet. There are some breeds of dogs and cats that may be less allergenic than others, and many types of pets (reptiles and fish) do not have fur, but no pet is truly hypoallergenic. There may be other medical conditions that may preclude you from getting a certain type of animal. If you have any concerns please speak with your physician regarding whether the type of pet you want would be acceptable. On the other hand there are many medical conditions that are helped by having a pet. For instance spending time with a pet is proven to lower blood pressure. Another thing to consider is if you develop a medical issue that makes it difficult for you to care for your pet, who will take over the responsibility of pet ownership for you?
  4. Housing: Can you provide an appropriate place for your pet to live? Some pets require very little space, and some need plenty of room. The most common cause of health problem in small, caged, animals is not providing a correct environment. Make sure to learn about what the pets natural or ancestral habitat was like to make sure you would be able to provide a close approximation.
  5. Time: Do you have the time to devote to the care of a new pet? Some types of pets require only a few minutes a day, such as some types of fish. Others may need hours of interaction, grooming, and/or exercise. Make sure you have time in your schedule to adequately care for your pets’ needs.
  6. Animal Medical Problems: Are you willing and able to provide medical care for your pet. It is your responsibility to keep your pet from suffering from illness and discomfort. Regular preventive care may help avoid ailments, but some health problems are unavoidable. Certain types and breeds of pets are more susceptible to certain medical problems. Before you get a pet you should ask your veterinarian what sorts of medical problems to expect and what can be done to try and avoid those problems. Very young animals may suffer more from medical issues as their immune system is not yet mature. Animals that have not had adequate medical care prior to adoption may have pre-existing problems that will need to be addressed. Also, a common, unavoidable cause of medical problems is old age. Are you willing to care for your pet as it ages and develops the chronic conditions associated with old age? Many animals have a shorter life span than humans do. Are you prepared to eventually deal with the death of your pet?
  7. Animal Behavior Problems: Perfectly natural pet behaviors can sometimes be irritating to humans. Cats naturally scratch objects to mark their territory. Some dogs find chewing to be an enjoyable activity. All pets, if allowed access, have the potential to have house soiling problems. Many types of animals can become aggressive if given the right circumstances. Getting a pet fish may work to avoid behavior problems as they do not have access to the house to soil it and their ability to express aggression is limited by their inability to breathe outside of water.
  8. Finances: Cost can become a major issue in caring for a pet. Some pets cost comparatively little. According to the ASPCA fish costs a minimum of about $35/year not including the aquarium. The ASPCA also estimated costs of dog ownership to be between $1300-$1800/ year and cat ownership to be roughly $1000 a year. (ASPCA, 2011) These figures include food, toys, collar, grooming, license, carrier, and preventive medical care. They do not include the cost of adopting the pet, emergency medical care, disease treatment, obedience training, or boarding. Costs often increase as pets get older. These estimated costs represent a MINIMUM per pet, most people will end up spending more. Pet insurance is available and may be a good investment if your pet was expensive to purchase or is a type of pet that often requires a lot of medical attention.

By claiming ownership of a pet you are accepting the responsibility for making it possible for the pet to have a healthy, happy life. Before taking on this obligation consider everything it entails. Having a pet can bring a lot of good experiences into your life, but it also requires a lot of giving of time, energy, and money. Do research regarding what type and/or breed of pet would best suit your needs and lifestyle. The more effort you put into picking the right pet for you, the better the chances you will have a good experience in pet ownership.

ASPCA: Pet Care and Nutrition: Pet Ownership Costs

 

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