Considering Getting a Pet: Are You Prepared?

a happy dog

Pets bring joy, help with learning responsibility and compassion for others, provide companionship, offer stress-relief, and can be a great addition to your family! However, it’s important to consider all aspects involved in owning a pet and researching about what pet is right for you before making that commitment.

Responsible pet-ownership is about knowing, as best you can, what you’re committing to, what your pets needs are, ensuring you can provide these, and committing to that pet for its lifetime. It’s not always easy to own a pet no matter what type, so make sure it’s right for you before diving in.

Read books about the pet you want, talk to friends or family who have owned that kind of pet, look up cost of care and supplies that the pet will need, research pet insurance costs, and take a realistic look at your life and schedule to see how a pet fits in.

Before you add to your family, we urge you to consider the time and cost involved in owning a pet so you can provide the best care possible.

Here are some questions to consider before adding a pet to your family.

Q. Why is it important to think hard and be mindful before deciding to get a pet?

Pets are a great addition to a household for companionship, stress-reduction, and enjoyment, but it’s important to understand the required care, cost, and time it takes to own a pet before making the decision to bring on into your home. When you bring a pet home, you should do so with the mindset of caring for it for the duration of its life, provide it the best quality life and necessary care for mental and physical health, and understand the time commitment of owning a pet.

Q. Do I have the time it takes to own and care for a pet?

Pets require flexibility and time at home to allow for care, training, exercise, and cleaning. Some pets require more attention than others, but all require some daily interaction. If you go out of town, you’ll need to hire someone to care for your pet as well, which adds to the cost of pet care.

Q. Do I live in a pet-friendly home?

You can make most living situations with a pet work, but if you live in apartment, some pets will be more challenging (dogs who will need to go out to potty and exercise, in particular). Pets should always be monitored, whether inside or outside (even if in a fenced area). Smaller spaces can work well because it’s easier to monitor your pet, but you can also use baby gates and block off areas in a larger home so your pet is in one area when transitioning into the home.

If you’re renting a place to live, consider any additional expenses you may have to bring a pet in. This includes pet deposits, pet fees, and cost of any damages a pet may cause.

Q. Do I have realistic expectations about what it's like to own a pet?

Getting a pet is an exciting and fun adventure, but it can also be stressful because of the time commitment and necessity of arranging your schedule around the pet’s needs. You’ll need to plan your schedule around getting your pet out for exercise, making sure he’s not home alone too long, and making sure you have accommodations set up in the event you travel or are away from home for a longer day then normal.

Q. Do I have a good support system and backups if I need help after I adopt a pet?

It's best to have everyone in your home involved with caring for the pet, even if you are the primary caregiver. This is because most pets are quite social and should be comfortable with others in the home. It would also be unfair to the pet to have someone in the home but unwilling to provide any attention or support the pet’s needs as they arise. Because of this, it’s important to have discussions on schedules, responsibilities, and emergency scenarios prior to bringing a pet into the home.

Q. Can I afford to adopt or purchase a pet?

Fees for adopting a pet can vary greatly, but that’s just an initial cost. You’ll also need to budget for veterinary visits with booster shots, bloodwork, fecal testing (for parasites), etc. depending on the type of pet you choose.

This veterinary care continues throughout the pet’s life and you also need to think about emergency funds should your pet get sick or injured. See our “cost of care”

Other costs of pet ownership include pet care supplies (crates, toys, bedding, crates, leashes, collars, etc.), food, training, pet-sitters or day care and boarding, and additional cost of cleaning your home, car, and the pet.

Q. Do I have a pet-friendly lifestyle? Does a pet fit into my lifestyle or am I willing to make sacrifices for my pet?

If you travel frequently for work, a pet may not be an ideal choice because of the time commitment involved. It’s also important to be with your pet in order to create a bond, develop a schedule, and ensure the pet has consistency in training and within its life. It’s also not wise to adopt a pet just before a vacation you have planned or during times of year where your focus is needed on another project, whether work or home.