Being a new pet parent is something great and exciting to look forward to. However, while there are certainly obvious upsides to owning a pet, you have to remember that pet ownership is a privilege. This means that there are certain duties you need to be responsible for—duties that have to do not just with keeping your pet healthy and safe but also ensuring their happiness.
With that said, here are some great tips about responsible pet ownership to keep in mind, no matter what kind of pet you do decide to get in the end.
Prepare for a lifetime commitment
Getting a pet cat or dog isn’t the same as owning a plush toy or a gadget. If your pet is being difficult or misbehaving, or if they’re behaving unpredictably—something that’s common with new pets—you can’t just send them back for a new one. If your pet gets sick, it’s on you to see that they get better. If they’re hungry, it’s on you to get them fed—and so on and so forth. You need to get into the mindset that you’re not just living for yourself anymore. In many ways, it’s just like being a parent to a child: you now have a living creature that depends wholly on you for survival, companionship and protection.
Set aside a budget for pet essentials
Owning a pet costs money. There’s no getting around to it, and it goes beyond the expense you paid to have them, as well as their daily food supplies. Dogs, for example, definitely require a properly-made dog collar and leash, among other essentials. Cats on the other hand absolutely need a litterbox, and maybe a toy or two. These are something you need to take into account when making your budget.
However, just because you need to spend money on them, it doesn’t mean you have to overspend. You can make it easy on your finances as long as you look hard enough, and do your due diligence. The budget pet supply market is a thriving one, and pet shops are not averse to sales and promos. Just make sure that the supplies you get come from reputable manufacturers.
Find and acquaint yourself with a nearby veterinarian in advance
Getting a pet also means being responsible for their healthcare, and as such, that means taking them to a veterinarian whenever they’re obviously unwell or acting strange enough to warrant concern. Regular vet visits are also necessary just to make sure your pet has no hidden medical conditions that are being neglected.
To avoid the usual panic of trying to find a suitable veterinarian for your pet, especially during health emergencies, make sure to find one in advance. Ideally, they should be nearby and easily accessible, even on foot. Introduce yourself to them, and talk about the pet you may be getting in the near future. Not only will you be able to acquaint yourself with them—and probably have an easier time getting appointments) —but you might also get a few free pet care tips in the bargain as well!
Think about proper identification
While a pet bird or fish may not strictly need a form of identification on them at all times, pets that are prone to wandering around—such as dogs and cats—obviously do. Ensure that they have tags on their collar bearing not just their name but also your contact information at all times, even if they’re strictly indoor pets. Microchipping is also something to consider, as collars and tags can easily be lost or removed.
Consider neutering or spaying your pet
Pet overpopulation is a real problem, and is the cause of many beloved pets being euthanized every year. This is especially true with dogs and cats. By having your dog or cat ‘fixed,’ you not only prevent your pet from adding to the issue but also resolve certain behavioral issues that come with mating instincts, such as being prone to wandering off or acting out.
Pet ownership is a very serious matter and a huge responsibility to undertake. No matter what kind of pet you’re looking to get—a dog, a cat, a reptile, or even just a fish—the moment you get them into your home is the moment where you’ve committed to devoting a part of your time, energy and money into making sure they’re healthy, happy and hale as much as possible.
If you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, or you don’t see yourself being able to take care of the needs of your pet, then you might want to rethink your decision, at least until you can get to the point in your life when you can say you’re ready.