Lots of people use the energy and perspective of a new year to make changes in their lives, and one change people are often keen to make is bringing a pet into their home. Whether it’s because they had pets as children and feel they need one to make their house into a home, never had pets as children and always wanted them, or even as a taste of the responsibility of raising children, there are all sorts of reasons people covet a pet cat, dog or rabbit, or some of the more exotic choices like birds, lizards and fish.
Today we’re taking a look at some of the questions you need to answer to know if now is a good time to bring home your first pet!
As with humans, pets can be prey to all sorts of health conditions, from the mundane to the very serious. You need to know what to do in the face of cat vomiting and diarrhea, a worryingly sluggish and fatigued dog, or a rabbit that won’t eat.
Before you bring your pet home, it’s well worth your time to look up some of the common health problems suffered from the species and breed so you can recognise the symptoms of the serious problems in time to get help, and know what to do to help them recover from less dangerous issues.
You also need to know you can provide a healthy, safe environment for your pet and have that in place ready for them when you bring them home. If you’re adopting, the shelter will likely send someone to check your home to make sure the animal you’re trying to adopt will be safe and happy there.
Cats like to have space to themselves – in the early days it’s worth trying to turn over at least a corner of a room (if not a whole room) to them, so they have somewhere safe to retreat to as they adjust to life in your home and come to trust you.
It’s less important for a dog to have its own space – in fact having it around as you go about your everyday life helps to socialise it, and help it feel safe and secure with you. It is important to have somewhere warm and secure for your dog to sleep, close to a door to the outside to help with housetraining, so think about where your dog’s ‘bedroom’ will be.
Before you commit to pet ownership think about the costs involved, and if you can meet them. There are the initial costs of vaccination, microchipping and supplies like litter trays, leads and collars, then ongoing costs like food, and finally occasional unexpected large outgoings in the form of vet bills for sickness and injury.
Getting a pet will change the way you budget, so think about it in advance – look at the cost of pet food, the supplies you’ll need and vets in your area. Pet insurance might be a useful way to manage the cost of medical bills – remember, if you’re not able to afford a necessary treatment it’s your cat, dog or rabbit that will suffer for it!