Bringing a pet into your household is a big decision.  Not only are you adding a new member to the family, but you are making a lifelong commitment to care for your new companion.  Here are a few things to consider.

The age of children in the family must be considered as younger children, though they can be involved with basic pet care, may not be able to act as the primary caregivers.  Parents should establish what species/breed/age of animal is appropriate.  A smaller breed dog may be too delicate for a young child, or a kitten with sharp claws could incur unintended injuries.  Teach your child basic pet care before the pet enters.  Make a weekly schedule assigning duties like grooming, feeding, exercising, and yard clean-up to help prepare them for future pet ownership responsibilities.  Beyond this, make sure no pet allergies exist by simply visiting a friend’s home who has a pet.

Another consideration is lifestyle.  Do you travel?  Have long work hours?  Are you more active?  Do you have an apartment or a house with a backyard?  Certain breeds lend themselves better to certain lifestyles.  For instance, if you aren’t home as much you may not have the time to train and socialize a puppy or kitten. In addition, certain pets, like long haired breed cats, while beautiful, require extensive grooming.

Last, is financial support, short and long term.  Money to cover grooming, bedding, food, toys, vaccinations, boarding fees and expected/unexpected veterinary costs should be budgeted.  Adopting a pet from a shelter rather than purchasing a pure bred is truly a great choice, but know this initial investment is just that.  We all hope our pets are healthy, but illnesses may arise sometime in their lives and as a responsible pet owner we should plan for them. Pet insurance can be a great option, offering financial peace of mind and may ultimately save headaches down the road.

After contemplating these basic considerations you will be ready to welcome the new furry addition to your family and ensure a long, healthy, happy life together!

By Tamara Borland V.M.D.