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Am I ready for a new pet?

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Bringing a new pet into your home and your life can be a wonderful experience; however it is a decision that should not be made lightly. A new pet should be a commitment for the life of the animal and there are a number of questions prospective pet owners should ask themselves before adding a furry friend to the family. If you have a particular type of pet in mind, use our Am I Ready for a New Pet? [pdf file: 0.02mb] checklist to make sure you consider all aspects of pet ownership before you commit. Next, check out the questions below to assess your family’s preparedness for a new member of your family.

Am I acting on impulse or am I ready for the commitment?
When you bring a new animal into your life you should expect it to be accompanied by changes in your lifestyle and household. If you are not prepared to accept these changes, then you should reconsider. Pets depend on their owners to fulfill their needs and this is a tremendous responsibility that prospective owners need to be prepared for. For example, young puppies require constant supervision and need to be taken outside numerous times a day to eliminate. Although the temptation of a cute puppy or kitten may be strong, understanding the commitment that comes with pet ownership can prevent unwanted stress for both the pet and owner.

Does my lifestyle allow for a new pet? How much time do I have for my new pet? Where will my new pet stay?
It is important to understand that training, caring for and exercising your new pet will take up a significant amount of time and patience. Transitioning a pet into a new home can cause stress for both the animal and the owner. Particularly with puppies and kittens, you can expect some destructive behaviour such as chewing and scratching as well as eliminating indoors. Although this can be frustrating for the owner, it is something that should be expected and is important to understand. You must be willing to work with your new pet to address these behaviours. Consideration should also be given to the amount of time that it will take to transition the pet into your home and to work with your pet on things such as house and obedience training.
dogs playing
Pets will be healthiest and safest if they are kept predominately indoors. Although with dogs, outdoor walking and play is a necessary way to keep your dog healthy, expelling them to the backyard is not an acceptable solution as dogs need companionship. When banished to the backyard, they will amuse themselves by digging, barking and may begin showing signs of aggression. Cats are also safer and healthier when not permitted to roam loose outside to protect them from cars, other animals and disease. The lifespan of an outdoor cat is significantly shorter than those not allowed to roam loose.

Will my future plans and ambitions allow me to properly care for my new pet?
You should never base your decision on getting a pet solely on your current situation. You should consider where you and your family may be in the future. Is there a chance that in the near future you may move, go back to school or change careers? The stress of these changes on you and your animals should be considered before acquiring a new pet. Cats in particular can have difficulty with such transitions.
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Are my living arrangements suitable for a new pet?
Where you live can have a significant bearing on whether you get a new pet and what kind of pet you ultimately choose. The accommodations that you provide need to include adequate exercise space both indoors and outdoors in order to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Of course the amount of space required is dependent upon the type and breed of pet you are seeking, but nonetheless it should be a consideration.

Is everyone ready for a new pet?
Getting a new pet is something that must be a family decision as it will impact the lives of everyone in the home. Whether any member of your family has any allergies, or phobias, to a particular animal must be discussed. The age of your children and future plans for children are also important to consider when deciding on a new pet.

When dealing with kids and a new pet, it is not realistic to assume that children will be responsible enough to be the sole caretaker for the new pet. Although initially excited and receptive to the idea of caring for the pet, parents should be aware that the novelty usually wears off, leaving the onus on parents. Children over seven years of age can be included in the pet care, but the responsibility for the pet must ultimately lie in the hands of the parents.

Can I afford a pet?
The costs associated with pet ownership vary dependant upon the type of animal. Below are some examples of costs associated with owning a dog or a cat. These can vary significantly depending on the type of animal and where you adopt your new pet. Use our budgeting resource [pdf file: 0.02mb] to estimate how much money it will cost to keep your pet healthy and happy.
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  • Breeder or adoption fee
  • Spaying/neutering
  • Food and water dishes
  • Collar and leash
  • Brush and comb
  • Litter pan and Scoop
  • Scratching post
  • Emergency medical costs
  • Vaccinations/annual vet check
  • Bed
  • Toys
  • Obedience classes
  • Fencing
  • Replacement of chewed/scratched goods

commonsense guide en commonsense guide fr
checklist for acquiring a dog checklist for acquiring a dog fr

Sources: CFHS, BCSPCA and ASPCA

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