Adopting a Pet – Am I Ready?
With months of quarantine under our belts, some of us are probably contemplating adopting a pet for the first time. Especially since many companies are indefinitely moving to remote work, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to bring another personality into your home. But before you rush to your local animal shelter, it’s important to know exactly what you are getting yourself into financially, mentally, and physically to determine if you are truly ready to be a pet owner.
Are you financially stable?
Some pets are more expensive than others, but there are always costs associated with any animal you choose to adopt. Whether you choose a cat, dog, hedgehog, or fish, you need to take a look at your finances to make sure you can afford it. If you are short on cash but really want a pal around, consider getting a fish or hermit crab. They typically cost less, and the upkeep is minimal. Just make sure to do your research on what supplies they need, as you still need an environment big enough for these animals to thrive.
If you are looking to adopt a dog or cat, you need to have a good amount of extra income each month. Dogs tend to be more expensive than cats, especially if you’re looking to get a large breed. The cost of dog food can quickly rack up, especially if your new pet has allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients. Dogs and cats also need mental and physical stimulation, so you need to budget in new toys and treats to keep them sharp. You should expect to spend at least $400 your first year of owning a dog or cat, and a similar amount each year afterwards. Large breeds will be more expensive; I spend more than $1,500 a year on dog food for my two dogs. Don’t forget about vet visits – annual checkups cost around $100, and emergency visits often cost more.
Are you mentally ready to be responsible for another life?
Adopting a pet is a great experience, but it can be incredibly tough sometimes. You become responsible for a living being, and it’s so important that you understand the weight of that. There are things you have to do every single day – feeding, changing litter, going on walks, playing, and everything in between. You have to adjust things in your house to keep them safe – such as putting baby guards on stove knobs for some cats or getting a locking trashcan for some dogs. Even if the pet you adopt seems calm at first, you never know what mischief they are going to get in later. There’s also a large possibility that some of your things will be destroyed, especially if you adopt a young animal. I can’t even count how many shoes, pillows, t-shirts, and electronics I’ve had to throw out when I had a puppy. If you get frustrated easily, have little patience, or are extremely forgetful, you will want to think very deeply about adopting an animal. None of these traits necessarily mean you aren’t ready – only you can truly answer that question.
Are you physically able to care for a pet?
Your lifestyle and abilities play a large part in which type of animal you should choose to adopt. If you have chronic pain or have trouble walking for long periods of time, you may not want a large dog that you have to constantly play with and walk through the park. On the contrary, if you are extremely active and love being outside, keeping a cat alone inside probably isn’t the best choice for you. There are so many types of animals to choose from, so don’t limit yourself to one species. Hermit crabs don’t need a lot of maintenance, and they can still make you feel less alone. Plus, decorating their homes can be so much fun! There are also many options within species. There are dogs who tend to be less active, which can be perfect for an elderly couple looking for a dog to watch TV with, and dogs that are always running around, a perfect companion for someone who loves camping and exploring the outdoors.
Adopting a pet is a huge responsibility, but can be extremely rewarding if you are ready for the challenge. Once you determine how much money and energy you are willing to spend, picking the right species is easy. So go forward and adopt your perfect pet – and make sure you send us a picture when you do!