Pet ownership can have many advantages for adults and children alike, from companionship to encouraging physical activity and improving general emotional well-being. Pets can also help children develop important skills, such as learning how to look after, nurture and care for another living being.
However, owning a pet is also a big responsibility and a serious commitment. Unfortunately, animal shelters are full of pets which have been surrendered by owners who got a pet only to discover they were not ready at all. So how do you know whether your family is ready for this responsibility? Ask these questions to help you decide if your family is ready to own a pet.
How much time do you have available?
Some pets require a larger time commitment than others, but whatever kind of pet you choose you will need to spend time caring for them. Looking after a pet involves feeding them, grooming them, and cleaning up after them. Having certain pets such as a dog involves making sure they have enough exercise, which means walking them each and every day. Consider how much time your family can realistically dedicate on a consistent basis, in order to decide what kind of pet you are ready for if any at all.
Are you ready for a long-term commitment?
As the adage goes, “a puppy is not just for Christmas”. To be a responsible pet owner, you need to be certain that you are willing to care for a new pet across the length of their lifetime, not just a few months or weeks. Keep in mind that dogs can live 10 to 13 years depending on the breed, and cats up to 16 years. If you are not sure whether your family is ready for such a long-term commitment, a pet such as a hamster or a guinea pig may be a better option.
Can you afford the financial costs?
Keep in mind that pets do not just require time and energy – they also involve financial outlay, which can be a significant amount in some cases. All pets, no matter how large or small require basic needs such as food, bedding, and veterinary care. Certain animals such as cats, dogs, and rabbits need vaccinations, which can be expensive, as our other required procedures such as having your pets spayed and neutered, and medical treatment in case they get sick. Other costs to consider include boarding costs for your pets when you go on vacation, and costs for accessories. Take the time to make an exhaustive list of all the costs involved in your potential new pet to see whether this will fit within your budget.
How Do Your Children Relate To Animals
As a final point to consider before getting a pet, take the time to observe how your children behave around animals. Are they relaxed and comfortable around animals, particularly the type of animal you are considering getting as a pet? If your child has a fear of animals, this doesn’t mean that you can never get a pet, but rather you may need to work up to this and make your children comfortable with animals over time in the lead up to getting a pet.
If you have fully considered these questions and decided that your family is ready for a pet, you will find the incredible ways your new pet will enrich your lives!