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How to Decide Whether You Are Ready for a Pet

by Karen Rollins Sep 11, 2023

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Man with dog

Owning a pet can be one of the most rewarding responsibilities you will take on.

A pet will love you unconditionally and supply endless amounts of joy and memories, but animals are also demanding and have various physical and psychological needs which must be taken into consideration.

If you are planning to welcome a pet into your family, you’ll know that it’s a big decision which demands careful thought and should never be taken lightly.  Some animals, like dogs and cats, can live up to 15 or 20 years so taking care of one is a significant commitment.

Here are four questions which should help you decide whether you are ready to become a pet owner.

Do you have enough time?

Every animal, even goldfish, requires a high level of care and attention that will demand a certain amount of your time.

Think about whether you can spare an hour every morning and evening to take a dog out for a walk, whether you have the energy to play with a cat, or if you have the time to sit and stroke a rabbit and clean out its hutch.

If you’re a busy person, with a packed daily schedule, and you don’t want to change your lifestyle, then a pet is probably not the best option.

Happy kitten likes being stroked by woman's hand.

Do you have enough money to care for a pet?

Pets can be expensive. As well as annual vet fees for vaccinations, exams and check-ups, there can also be bigger bills for unexpected health problems which may become chronic such as cancer or diabetes.

In addition, there are regular costs for everyday items such as food, litter, toys, collars, bowls, brushes, leads, and cages.

It’s certainly not advisable to take on a pet if you are already struggling to pay your household bills.

Do you have enough room for a pet?

Most pets need space even if they spend a large amount of their time in a cage.

If you want a dog, it’s probably best if you live in a house with a garden where they can stretch out and run around, in between going on long walks.

A cat can easily adapt to living in a small, indoor environment like an apartment, but they also need some space to roam and explore so access to a garden is preferable.

You should also accept the fact that some damage to furniture and other household items is to be expected once a pet makes itself at home.

Playing with her pet

Are you ready for a long-term commitment?

Just like most human beings, the life expectancy for animals has increased considerably in recent years, particularly because of advancements in food and vet care. Some cats and dogs, depending on the individual and breed, can now live up to 20 years or even more.

If you choose to adopt an animal, ask yourself if you are ready to commit to caring for it for years to come and consider what your circumstances might be like in 10 or 15 years.

You should also think about who will take care of your pet when you want to go on vacation. Employing a pet sitter for two weeks or putting an animal into a boarding facility is expensive and soon adds up.

Choosing to adopt a pet is a long-term responsibility which requires lots of dedication, patience and love. But the good news is, if you have enough time, money and energy to properly care for a pet, you’ll get back from them much more than what you put in, and it’ll all be worth it.

Sources: SPCAVetstreet and PetMD