It’s certainly true that pets have the ability to complete families; their presence is often warm and reassuring, and they can enrich children’s lives in so many ways. With Christmas coming, it might be tempting to take the plunge and choose a pet. Stop! While there are a number of benefits to owning a pet, there are an equal number of considerations that you must make first – and we don’t just mean the kind of animal that you’re going to choose.
Before choosing an animal or purchasing a pet, you must make the following considerations.
Can you afford a pet?
This consideration is relatively straightforward; can you afford to purchase a pet and then pay for its upkeep thereafter? The financial commitment of owning an animal doesn’t stop with its purchase. You must also consider whether you’ll be able to afford to buy food and accessories and keep up with veterinarian bills, insurance, and any relevant training classes. The ASPCA estimates that the cost of owning a cat or dog will hit and exceed $1,000 during the first year alone. Once you buy your pet, you’ll be responsible for all of those extra bills.
What pet should you choose?
Perhaps the biggest decision that you’ll make is what pet to choose. Are you interested in welcoming a dog or cat, or would you like to start small with a rabbit, guinea pig, or fish? Different animals have different needs, and it’s important to consider the time, care, and effort that each pet might incur. Which pet best suits your current family situation? Your family might have set its heart on a puppy, but it’s vital that you think very carefully about the commitment you’re about to make.
Who will look after your pet?
This might seem like an obvious question, but it’s an important one. Who is going to be shouldering the responsibility of owning a pet? Your child may have shown an interest in owning an animal, and even promised to do anything and everything for that new pet. However, are you prepared for the burden of feeding, cleaning out, and grooming to fall to you? Consider your lifestyle; are you often out, or do you have the time to dedicate to walking? Do you love to travel or take vacations? Who would look after your pet while you are away?
Is your child ready for a pet?
Getting a pet can be a great way to introduce a child to the concept of responsibility. However, you must make sure that your child is ready to learn and to get involved in the upkeep of your animal. Will they help you clear out a hutch or a cage? Does your little one enjoy the long rambles that will accompany dog ownership? Having a pet is a family commitment, so please think carefully about whether everyone is ready to accept that duty. That said, having a pet can be especially rewarding for children as they learn to love and care for another creature.
Are you ready to say goodbye?
If you’re going to be welcoming a pet into your home, you must be ready for the inevitable; while some animals live longer than others, you will, at some point, experience the loss of your treasured friend. Death is a fact of life, but this doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy to say your final goodbyes when the time comes. A funeral or pet cremation service can be a wonderful way to honor your pet, and to say goodbye – especially if you have children who might be struggling with the concept of loss. Indeed, this sad time may become the perfect opportunity to introduce your child to the topic of death in a safe and loving environment.
There are so many things to consider when it comes to rehoming an animal, least of all the examples that we’ve included. Is your home suitable for the pet you have chosen? Do you have the time to dedicate to an animal? Have you considered what would happen in an emergency? While the benefits of owning a pet can be far-reaching and encompassing for the whole family, animal ownership is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. We’d like to wish you and your family lots of joy and happy memories on your pet adventure – as long as you’re sure that you’re ready to take the plunge.