Everything you should consider before getting a pet

women with dogs
Pets are a lot of work, and require a lot of time and dedication. (Photo: Chewy/Unsplash)

Bringing an animal into your family is a big, and important, decision.

As the old saying goes, a pet isn’t just for Christmas, they’re for life, especially if you get a pet when they’re young – and they live up to 20 years in some cases.

You have to make sure you’re absolutely certain of your decision, and of your capability to love and care for another living creature before you pick that ‘really cute’ puppy to bring home.

Not only do you have to think practically about your pet’s life, such as whether you live in a flat or a house with a garden, but you also have to be aware that getting a pet comes with a lot of extra responsibilities. More than just taking them out for walks and giving them a cuddle.

Parrots, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), are the nation’s fourth most popular pet; according to a 2012 survey conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 3.1 percent of U.S. households owned birds. Some parrots can scream as loud as an ambulance siren. These birds are beautiful, but they’re difficult to care for and require lots of space, so the HSUS doesn’t recommend keeping them as pets at all.

Natasha Homer-Early, founder of pet referencing startup PetsScore, tells Metro.co.uk that there are several things to consider when getting a pet.

‘There are many reasons why people want to get a pet, but the first question someone needs to ask is ‘does my landlord allow pets?”

Less than 7% of private rental properties allow pets and you should make sure you’re not ‘facing penalties or eviction down the line by bringing a pet into their property,’ as that will also have a negative impact on your pet.

couple holding dog and cats
Many landlords don’t allow pets so make sure your pet is allowed. (Photo: Sarandy Westfall/Unsplash)

Homer-Early says that it’s ‘important to do your research and ensure whatever animal you’re planning to get will fit your lifestyle.’

Make Your Dog Their Own Digging Box. If your dog loves to dig keep you can keep your garden safe by teaching them to use their very own digging box.

Ali Smith, the Positive Puppy Expert at Rebarkable, largely agrees, saying that there are three main considerations when getting a pet:
  1. Do I have the time?
  2. Do I have the money?
  3. Is this pet going to work with my lifestyle?

She says that any pet ‘will need time, maintenance, grooming, and time to be with you, so making sure that you have that time to give them is a really important first consideration.’

Secondly, there are lots of hidden costs with owning a pet, such as ‘training and vets bills, none of which will come cheaply.’

Plus, if you’re working full-time, you may need to cover daycare and dog walker costs too, Ali says.

If you have a small dog, cutting up a lamb roll into tiny pieces is a cost-effective way to make healthy, bite-sized training treats. A 1-pound roll costs $6.98. Cut it up into the desired size, store most of it in a ziplock bag in the freezer, and leave the rest on the counter for immediate use.

Many pet owners are unaware of these costs, with Natasha adding: ‘Many first time pet owners overlook the additional monthly expenditure involved in owing a pet.

‘Pet insurance, vets feed, recurring vaccinations, worming medication, food, and bedding all adds up quite significantly so it’s really important to make sure you can afford it’.

guinea pigs
All pets, big or small, require pet-proofing and quality time with you. (Photo: Bonnie Kittle/Unsplash)

In addition to costs, you have to ensure that the pet you get fits into your lifestyle and the home you have, not the home you want.

To remove pet hair from upholstery, dampen a rubber glove and run your gloved hand over it. The latex/rubber will attract the hair.

Natasha says: ‘Not everybody has acres of land for pets to roam free – and that’s ok! If you have a smaller home, it’s just about being smart about your choice of animal, matching that up with the level commitment you can provide, and whether the pet will fit into your work and social lives.’

Ali has several recommendations for people thinking about getting a pet: ‘Firstly, for those looking to get a pet, you can either adopt or shop, responsibly. Not all rescues are what they seem, neither are breeders, so it’s good to do your research and do it thoroughly.

An inexpensive and easy summer treat for dogs: Cut up apples in chicken broth and freeze in an ice cube tray.

‘Taking the time to do your research and find the best possible place to get your pet is the best investment you will make in your future with your pet.’

Both Natasha and Ali recommend pet-proofing your home before bringing a pet into it, making sure to look for ‘small spaces, wires, remotes, scatter cushions, open bodies of water, and gaps in fencing,’ all of which could be a hazard for your pets and your furniture.

Several pet owners also shared their own considerations of buying a pet, or what they wish they knew before taking the plunge. Cost seems to be major factor for most people.

Stay consistent with training, play time and rest time for your pets so they don’t get too overwhelmed. Your calm and consistent demeanor will help your pet to understand that they can trust you. Once you earn their trust, understand the schedule, and feel secure in their safe place, both of your lives will be much easier.

two girls with dog on bed
Getting a pet can be a very fulfilling experience, so long as you can care for it. (Photo: Chewy/Unsplash)

One person said: ‘Be prepared to spend some serious cash for 12-15+ years: insurance, vets, food (especially when you have fussy cats like mine), toys, jabs, sitters etc.

‘For me, the furniture and carpets that are scratched to death – but I still wouldn’t trade my cats for the world. Far too many pets get abandoned or left to stray when the vet bills pile up and families can’t pay for treatment.’

Another person said you should have contingencies in place for ‘who can look after the pets when you go on holiday,’ whether that’s someone you trust or a pet sitter – but that is an additional cost too.

Here's an ingenious leash that has a built-in waste-bag dispenser and a compartment for keys, cards, phone, and treats.

A third said: ‘One of the things I think people don’t realise is how much your life will change. You have to consider every element of your and your pet’s life, from booking travel to working in the office.

‘Raising a happy pet is a lot of work.’

Getting a pet can be a great decision, particularly if you love animals and feel equipped to take care of the pet in question. But make sure you consider all of these factors before bringing your furry friend home, because once you have one, there’s no turning back.

Yummy! Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds. Humans have approximately 9,000 and cats have around 473.

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