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What You Need to Consider Before Becoming a First-Time Pet Owner

Posted on January 20, 2019 at 5:15 PM

What You Need to Consider Before Becoming a First-Time Pet Owner

Whether you became smitten by your neighbor’s dog or you’ve always dreamed of owning a lap cat to keep you company during your Netflix binges, the decision to own a pet needs to be one that’s well thought out. No matter how cute his or her fuzzy little face is, avoid making an impulse purchase.

Consider whether it’s the right time in your life to own a pet, then match the correct animal to your lifestyle and home environment. For example, do you travel a lot? Some pets will develop anxiety if they’re constantly bouncing between home life and a boarding facility. Do you have children? Some breeds of cats and dogs don’t like the noise or touchy-feely nature that comes with kids. Does anyone in your household have allergies? Along with getting tested (a must even if you don’t think you’re allergic), look into which canines and felines are the best and worst in terms of shedding and dander. Once you determine the specific animal, size, and breed, it’s time to get ready for becoming a first-time pet owner.

Adopt from a Shelter

While you may not find your first choice, adopting from a shelter is one of the most responsible ways to get a pet. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you rescued an animal and will be giving it a loving home. Not to mention, you won’t be supporting the puppy mills, a factory-like breeding process that usually prompts behavior issues and illness. Nearly eight million cats and dogs enter shelters nationwide each year, so there’s no doubt you’re helping a worthy cause. Lastly, adopting from a shelter will cost you less money, and the animal will be up-to-date on all of its vaccines and may possibly be microchipped, too.

Home Prep

Before your new furry family member comes home, make sure you have food, treats, dishes for eating and drinking, toys, a cage/carrier, a collar, a leash, and cat litter and a litter box if need be. If you have anything around your home that means a lot to you or has value, consider stowing it away until you observe your pet’s behavior. It’s also important to select a comfortable bed that suits your pet’s size, as this will provide them with a place to get away from it all if things get too overwhelming. Preparations should also include researching area dog parks, walking routes, boarding facilities, and finding a vet — you’ll probably want to schedule an appointment soon after bringing your new fur baby home so you can start to establish a relationship.

Have an Emergency Plan in Place

Even if you consider yourself pet owner of the year, accidents and natural disasters do happen, so it’s important that you have an emergency plan in place for your animal. Likewise, having pet health insurance is a smart move that can keep your from financial ruin if they become ill. It’s best to have a plan in place as soon as you adopt. If you wait and they get sick, you run the risk of losing the chance to obtain coverage due to preexisting conditions.

Stay current on all vaccinations and pet identification — collar tags and the location associated with the microchip. Designate an emergency contact in case of extreme weather or something as severe as a terrorist attack. Have an evacuation kit handy (think food, bottled water, medication) in case you need to leave in a hurry. Keep leashes and carriers in an easily accessible place so you don’t have to hunt them down in a panic. Figure out where your family and pet will go in case of an emergency.

The adjustment period for a new pet differs depending on whether the animal was previously abused, how much time they spent in the shelter (to include the number of times it was in and out of a home), and breed, so exercise patience. While you might want to smother your pet with love, give it some space to get comfortable with its surroundings if it seems a bit skittish at first. If takes longer than usual to settle in (more than a couple of months), talk to your vet about possible medication or in-home aids to reduce anxiety.

-Guest article written by Jessica Brody


well thought out. -

canines -

and felines -

shelter -

collar, -

comfortable bed -

it’s important -

carriers -

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