Bringing home a new pet is thrilling. However, when you are so caught up in the excitement that you forget to consider what’s best for your family—and your new pet—the joy may be short-lived if you realize your new pal is not a good fit. Choosing the right pet for your family is crucial to ensuring a successful outcome for everyone. Read our Central Houston Animal Hospital team’s guide to important factors you should consider before adopting a pet.
Consider why you want a pet
When you are thinking about adopting a pet, you must consider why you plan to do so. Are you looking for companionship? An exercise partner? An adventure buddy? Clearly establishing your reason for adopting a pet will help you choose the right one, and will be a good reminder during pet ownership’s most difficult days. Pets are a lifetime commitment and a huge responsibility. While you can expect to share plenty of fun times with your animal family member, you must consider whether you are ready for a lot of hard work, and will be able to practice the necessary patience and consistency your pet deserves. Needless to say, you should not make a pet adoption decision on a whim.
Decide if you are in a good enough place in your life to care for a pet
While falling head over heels in love with a pet at an adoption event or animal shelter is easy, resist the urge to make an impulsive decision before seriously considering if you are in a good enough place in your life to care for a pet. Before meeting adorable pets in need of adoption, reflect on these factors:
- Time — Do you have the time a pet requires for their daily care, and the attention, daily exercise, and training they need? If you work outside the home or travel often, who will care for your pet while you are away?
- Experience — Have you had a pet before, or will this be your first one? Will you be comfortable caring for a pet with behavioral or medical issues? Do you have a support system—friends, neighbors, family—who can offer resources and advice as you navigate pet ownership?
- Resources — Do you have the financial resources for a pet’s supplies, veterinary care, food, and ongoing costs (e.g., vaccinations, flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products, grooming)? Are you prepared to pay medical emergency costs?
- Home size — Do you live on acreage or in an apartment? What pet would be comfortable in your space?
Reflect on the pet personality that fits your lifestyle
While all pets have unique personalities, their breed characteristics often indicate their temperament and activity level. If your family is extremely active, you may consider high-energy breeds such as Labrador retrievers, Australian shepherds, or border collies. If your family prefers light exercise, a bulldog, basset hound, or pug may be a better fit. If your family is sedate or lives in a small place, you may consider adopting a bird, reptile, or pocket pet, such as a gerbil, hamster, or guinea pig.
Discuss the responsibilities of pet ownership with your family
Caring for a pet is a big responsibility, and your whole family should be on board and prepared to help care for your new pet. To make your life easier and ensure that all your furry pal’s needs will be met, each family member must agree to play their part in caring for your new pet. Discuss pet ownership’s responsibilities with your family and assign each family member a role to ensure each person clearly understands what their job will be. Consider these pet care responsibilities:
- Daily feeding
- Cleaning up after your pet
- Providing regular exercise
- Playing with your pet
- Training your pet
Consider the needs of your current pets
If you already have pets at home, consider their needs before bringing home another animal. Does your current pet get along with other animals? Even highly social pets will need an adjustment period when a new pet moves into your home.
Prepare for your new pet
Before you bring home your new pet, purchase essential supplies to ensure this new family member has what they need to adjust safely to their environment. In addition, safeguard your home and belongings before your new pet is allowed the run of the house. Ensure you have these pet essentials:
- Food and water bowls
- Collar, harness, and leash
- Appropriately sized crate
- Variety of toys and chews
- Blankets and pet beds
- Pee pads (for dogs) or litter boxes (for cats)
- Poop bags (for dogs)
- Car restraints (e.g., crate, car seat, seat belt with harness)
- Grooming supplies (e.g., nail clippers, brushes, puppy or kitten shampoo, pet-safe toothpaste, toothbrush)
- Cleaning supplies for accidents
Before bringing home a new pet, carefully reflect on these considerations, which can help you zero in on choosing your family’s perfect pet, and ensure the experience is successful for everyone. Once you bring home your new pet, contact our Central Houston Animal Hospital team and schedule your new family member’s wellness examination.