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.

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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.’

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.

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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

Give him the exercise he needs. All pets need regular exercise to stay fit and to release their energy. Without it, your pet will begin to act out. Young pets that do not get enough exercise are more likely to develop negative behavioral issues that lead many to give up their pet.

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.

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