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What to Know Before Becoming a First-Time Pet Owner

While your emotions surrounding a recent breakup or the loss of loved one might prompt you to get a pet, they should not be the only driving force behind your decision, as it can lead to short-term ownership. Case in point, the number one reason people surrender their pets is due to a lack of financial resources. While it’s impossible to have a crystal ball to know whether you’ll lose a job in the future, you should be actively saving for scenarios such as medical-related emergencies while being able to stay on top of regular costs such as vet visits, food, and medication. You’ve also got to be prepared for the time commitment it takes to walk/play with your pet, as well as clean up and grooming duties. Still interested? Then read on to learn everything you need to know about becoming a first-time pet owner.

Choosing the Type and Breed

The type and breed of pet you choose have more to do with your lifestyle than your preference in looks. It’s important that you’re honest with yourself about what type of animal would fit into your life so you can both thrive and be happy. For example, if you live in a studio apartment, then an oversized husky is not a good option — for you or the dog. If you have rowdy children, then you’ll want to avoid getting a Himalayan cat, as they prefer a quiet lifestyle. If you travel a lot and/or don’t have the means to let your dog out during the day, consider whether a pet is a good option at all. Despite the stigma that they’re aloof loners, they actually need attention to be happy, too. When it comes to breed, do research based on factors such as allergies, as well as the specific personality traits in the breeds you’re considering.

Home Preparations

Ask the shelter or breeder you’re getting your pet from if there are any specific items you should get prior to your furry friend’s arrival. Next, head to the pet store and pick up food, dishes, toys, treats, a bed, cat tree and scratching post (if applicable), crate/carrier, collar, leash, and grooming tools.

If you are bringing home an elderly cat or dog, you might need to make some simple home modifications. For example, try to keep all of their items on the ground floor so they don’t have to climb the stairs. Make sure the bedding is cushioned enough if placed on the floor, as older animals tend to have achy joints. If you notice that your cat or dog wants to snooze in a favorite spot like the couch or your bed (providing they’re allowed), it’s not a bad idea to invest in a few ramps/pet stairs to place next to the furniture to prevent pain when jumping. Senior pets also require regular vet visits as various health issues can arise with age.

No matter what age or breed of pet you get, you should be prepared to clean up after it. Invest in a pet-friendly cleaning supplies, puppy pads, and a good vacuum cleaner designed for keeping pet hair under control. If you do choose to let your pets use your furniture as their own, you should also budget for routine furniture cleanings. In Smyrna, GA, furniture cleaning ranges from $148 to $198.

The Acclimation Period

Rescue pets tend to be nervous or fearful, so they’re likely to have anxiety for the first few weeks. While you’ll want to shower them with affection, don’t overdo it. You may actually increase their angst. Be patient and give them time to acclimate to their new surroundings. For cats, consider introducing them to a couple of rooms at a time versus the entire home, as this can be overwhelming for them. Get on top of housebreaking your dog the moment it arrives home, as it’s not uncommon for indoor accidents to occur due to stress.

One of the most exciting aspects about being a pet owner is the bonding experience. Note that while dogs love connecting by way of activities like long walks, playtime, and consistent time together, cats prefer a mix of play, alone time, and petting (often on their watch) after becoming adjusted. Don’t be discouraged if don’t see progress right away — especially with a shelter animal — as you will never truly know what your pet went through in the past.

Pet ownership requires a lot of time, energy, and money. That’s why it’s so important to think through the process before you make the leap. In the end, a little planning and preparation can help ensure you and your pet stay happy, healthy, and together for a long time.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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