If you've been thinking about adding a four-legged friend to your family but don't know where to start, you're not alone. Many potential cat and dog moms have this dilemma. But don't give up: Pet owners are more likely to have stronger immune systems and have better mental health, so there are plenty of benefits to keeping a pup or a kitty around the home. But having a furry friend is also a big responsibility; pets need a lot of attention and love.
We spoke to veterinarian Dr. Chris Brown about the top things to consider before bringing a pet into your life.
Adopt; don't shop.
That little puppy or kitten may look cute in the pet shop window, but think about adopting one from a shelter. With the huge number of animals in need of a home, you have many options.
Most people think that because an animal is in a rescue shelter, they're damaged, but that's not the case. "Most of these pets have been given up just due to changes in their human's circumstances — [things that have] nothing to do with the pet's temperament. In fact, both my dog and cat have beautifully rounded and giving personalities due to their time as shelter animals," says Dr. Brown. "I know puppies and kittens are very cute, but there are plenty of older (and already trained!) pets in shelters that would be a great 'first pet' for families who are looking."
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Pet
Dr. Brown says finding the perfect pet is just like finding the perfect partner. "There's being ready and then there's thinking you're ready. You want this relationship to go the distance as well, so make sure you're very honest about what you can truly bring to the relationship," he says.
With that in mind, ask yourself these questions before rushing to your nearest animal rescue center.
1. Do you work long hours?
If you're constantly at the office or work unpredictable hours, getting a pet probably isn't the best decision. They need to be fed, walked, and taken care of and that won't happen if you're never at home, especially if you have a hyperactive puppy on your hands.
2. Are you constantly away for work?
One of the greatest welcomes you'll ever receive is a dog running to your feet after a long day, but if you're constantly traveling, you should reconsider getting a pet.
3. Are you financially comfortable enough for a pet?
Food, vet bills, and toys: It all adds up! Make sure a pet is within your budget, or you may struggle later down the road.
4. Are you allowed to have a pet where you live?
The last thing anyone wants is an angry landlord. Also, if you have a tiny apartment and want a big dog that needs lots of space and exercise, it's not fair to the animal either.
5. Do you have any other pets?
If you already own pets and it's going well, adding one more isn't always a great option. When a sibling is involved, animals can fight, so make sure any potential new pet is the right addition.
This article was originally written by Alex Lilly. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.