As you consider buying a pet, however, keep in mind that they require time, care and financial support. Think about how making this purchase will affect your life and your pet’s, before you commit to becoming a pet owner.
Following are some considerations to keep in mind as you prepare to add a pet your life:
Evaluate the time commitment. Do you have time to give a pet appropriate care? If you don’t know how you will find the time to take your dog for walks or play catch, consider a pet requiring less maintenance, a fish, hamster, turtle or guinea pig, for example. Dogs and cats tend to require a lot of attention, so be prepared to provide it! Also keep in mind the life expectancies of your pets. Dogs live an average of 10 to 18 years, while cats can live up to 20. Hamsters and fish live only three to five years; mice one or two.
Research the financial commitment.
Your new pet needs to eat! And that’s only the start. Supplies, grooming, veterinary care and other costs can add up. The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) estimates that dogs cost owners an average of $1,071 annually, and cats cost about $835 annually.
Explore the benefits of pet insurance.
As you are calculating the costs associated with keeping a pet, consider the option of purchasing pet insurance. A good policy will cover surgeries and hospitalizations, X-rays, prescriptions, dental care and more. This coverage is beneficial to not only your wallet but also your pet’s health: Pet owners who have the peace of mind of pet insurance tend to seek veterinary care more often than those who don’t.
Find a reputable breeder or shelter.
Unfortunately, the puppies and dogs being sold through retail shops tend to come from puppy mills, high-volume dog breeding operations that force dogs to live in substandard conditions, often with inhumane care. If your pet of choice is a dog, consider adopting through a shelter or rescue organization, or make sure your puppy comes from a reputable breeder who treats the animals with care and compassion.
Identify a great veterinarian.
Ask friends or neighbours for referrals, and make sure your veterinarian’s office is conveniently located so that you never hesitate to take your pet for needed vaccinations or treatments. Create a safe environment for your new pet. Make sure your pet is never exposed to household cleaners, poisonous plants or medicines, and keep breakable and valuable objects out of his or her path. Also remember that some foods can be lethal to your pet. For example, chocolate can be deadly to dogs and cats, and onions, raw potatoes, green tomatoes, grapes and raisins can be highly toxic.
Make sure you will have time to train.
Pets can’t be expected to know the rules of your house, yard and neighbourhood without some guidance. If you plan to buy a dog, don’t do it unless you are willing to spend money on formal training or spend time training the dog yourself. The Ontario SPCA reports that one of the most common reasons pets are given up for adoption is that their owners haven’t spent enough time on training and playing with the animal. Make sure you are prepared to make that up-front investment to ensure your pet is a wonderful companion.
Don’t buy a pet as a gift.
Unless you are absolutely certain the recipient wants and is ready to care for a pet, don’t even consider presenting one as a gift. This is a risky venture even if you are certain, since people should really select their own pets to ensure they have a bond.
Sources: Canadian Living, CanadianParents.com, No Puppy Mills Canada