Are You Ready For a Pet?

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Not all breeds of dogs like to be hugged and cuddled.

My neighbors got a new puppy over the weekend, and that got me thinking about how much I miss having a dog. Who doesn’t love a wet, snuffly kiss and a never-ending supply of affection? But owning a pet – of any type – is a big responsibility that many people don’t fully consider before heading out to the pound or the pet store. Here are some tips you can use or pass on to your clients to determine if a pet-owning future is right for you.

Does everyone in the house want a pet?
Unless you live alone, there should be a discussion among everyone in the household to decide if everyone wants a pet and what type of pet your family is willing to care for. If you’ve got someone who really isn’t interested in caring for an animal, that probably means you’ll be doing more of the work yourself.

What kind of pet are you willing to care for?
Let’s be honest, dogs are a lot more work than many other types of pet. They aren’t as independent as cats and can get into a lot more things around the house. If you’re family wants an animal but doesn’t have the time to devote to a dog or cat, consider a hamster or something else that can be kept in a cage. Also, if you don’t want to deal with the constant cleaning that can come with cat and dog hair, maybe an animal that’s contained in a cage is a better choice for you.

A bird is an alternative pet choice to the traditional dog and cat.

What type of pet is right for your family?
Some breeds of dogs aren’t right with families with small children. Some cats don’t have the personality to live with family members that want to cuddle or handle them frequently. Maybe someone in the family has allergies that are aggravated by a particular type of fur. These are all considerations which should be researched before purchase, and your veterinarian can help you reach the answers.

Do you realize how much work owning a pet is?
Granted, I’m thinking mostly of a dog here, but even cats and other animals can be a lot of work. Think of it as having a small furry child because your pet will need everyday care and attention just like a child does. Food, water, exercise, and attention are everyday needs, plus the chores of additional house cleaning, litterbox, cage or yard cleanup, and the extra expenses of food, treats, veterinary care, and possibly grooming are all important items to consider.

Don’t get swept off your feet but a cute face.
I speak from experience here … it’s happened to me. You swing by the pound on a Saturday afternoon on your way somewhere else just to take a look at the dogs or cats, and you very nearly leave with one because you were mesmerized by the cute/sad/happy/hopeful face looking back at you. Once I really did leave with a dog and had to swing by the pet supply store on my way home because I didn’t have a bed, food, or anything else. There’s nothing wrong with a spur of the moment choice at the pound or pet store, just make sure that you’re fully decided – and stocked! – before you go (just in case).

How much do you travel?
If you travel for work or like to take frequent family trips, you’ll need to consider where your pet will go when you’re gone. Dogs and cats can go to boarding facilities if you’re willing to pay for them, or you can have friends or neighbors care for your animal. Depending on the frequency of your travel, bear in mind that it’s not fair to your pet or your family and friends to expect them to care for your animal almost as much as you do.

As for me, I think I’m going to play the field for a while and get to know a few of the dogs on my street before committing to another dog myself. I’ll see if I can’t make friends with the new puppy next door and dog-sit once in a while. After all, it’s nice when they visit, but it can be just as nice when they go home!

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