A Guide For First-Time Pet Owners

selective focus photography of black, white, and brown cat lying on wooden table

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Owning a new pet is a big responsibility. If you’ve decided to take the plunge, here is what you need to welcome your new pet to the family.

 

Selecting The Right Pet

Your first step is choosing a pet that’s a good fit for your home, your family, and your time. Avoiding impulse buys is an important piece of advice from 2nd Chance. Here is how to determine which pet and/or breed is right for you.

Why Do You Want A Pet?

This is the first question to ask. Do you want a constant companion or some interesting entertainment? Would you prefer a bit of wildlife or an animal that can provide unconditional love? You must also consider personality: are you active or sedentary? All pets have different personalities, too. Learn more from Deliberate Magazine.

Many people opt for companion pets. These are not trained like service animals. (Read what sets the two apart in this article from The Independence Center.) Companion pets can be beneficial to people with various emotional support needs, like those who have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, or people in substance abuse recovery. Petting a dog, for example, can reduce stress and calm the spirit. They can also provide love, support, and a sense of responsibility.

What Is Your Commitment?

Large pets, such as cats and dogs, require a larger time commitment than hamsters and fish. Keep in mind that dogs almost always will need some training in a new family. Do you travel a lot or work very long hours?  Will you be the primary person responsible for this pet? If you’re a parent, learn how to choose the right dog for your child from Cesar’s Way.

Allergies

Make sure that you and anyone you live with are not allergic to the pet you are considering. If you’re unsure, you can always get tested.

Home Size And Budget

How much square footage is required for this pet or breed? Will your pet need a yard? Do you have a safe and sturdy place for a habitat or fish tank? If you are getting a cat or a dog, decide which areas or rooms are off-limits beforehand so you can block them off.

When You’re Away

Determine who will care for your pet when you’re away. Is there someone who can come in to feed them? Remember that if you have a pet that eats bugs or mice, make sure that person is not squeamish! For larger pets, will you use a kennel or do you have a reliable friend who can watch him?

Here are even more questions to ask yourself from Monterey County SPCA.

 

Preparing Your Home

Before bringing any pet home, complete these tasks:

  • Make sure your home is safe. This can mean anything from putting up a fence to checking areas for broken glass or toxic chemicals.
  • Instruct your family or housemates on how to treat your new pet and what not to do to prevent mishaps. Vetstreet.com recommends bringing home your pet when you have a few days off (like a weekend) so you have time to bond with him.
  • When you bring home your pet, help him to acclimate by having food, toys, bedding, and all his needed items on hand in advance. When you’re choosing your pet supplies, be discerning, especially when it comes to food. What you feed your pet has a major impact on his or her overall, long-term health. Research online before you buy, check ingredients lists for organic fruits and veggies, and consider any allergies your pet may have.
  • For those choosing a rescue pet, keep in mind he may have fears he can’t express and could be skittish. Take your time introducing him to your home, and be calm around him. Woof.com has advice on how to handle this situation.

Bringing home a new pet is exciting, but make sure you choose the right pet for you and your home. Take the time to prep your home, acclimate your pet, and bond with him to create a wonderful experience.