New Year, New Pet? 3 Factors to Consider Before Getting a Pet
By: Dr. Fiona, DVM
For Pets Best Insurance
The New Year not only brings resolutions, it often brings new four-legged members to our families.
Why add a pet to your family? Experts agree that families with pets are generally healthier. Animals have proven stress reducing capabilities that even children can benefit from. They provide companionship and in the case of dogs, they demand that you become more active, enforcing your family’s healthy New Year’s goals. But are you and your family ready for a cat or dog?
3 Important Factors to consider before adding a pet
1) Your Family’s Lifestyle
Be honest and realistic with your lifestyle. For example, a border collie or other very intelligent, high energy breeds will not do well in a family that lives in a condo with no yard and/or spends a lot of time away. One of the biggest mistakes I see dog owners make is selecting a dog that is too active for their lifestyle, and then they become frustrated when the dog is destructive or unruly due to boredom. If your pet does become unruly, pet medical insurance companies like Pets Best Insurance offer limited reimbursement for behavioral issues. But before adopting, do breed research and take into account the needs and temperaments of different breeds. And don’t forget cats! Cats can provide companionship and an element of responsibility, but in general require less ‘work’ than dogs.
2) Your Children’s Ages
If your family includes children, pets are a wonderful way to teach children responsibility, while providing a lifelong bond. However, consider your child’s age. For example, toddlers and puppies can potentially play too rough together because neither understands the injuries they can cause one another. Additionally, a child less than 10 to 12 years old is likely too immature to be able to handle all the responsibilities of caring for a dog, no matter how much they plead their case. Understand that as an adult, you will invariably be required to supervise and enforce the caretaking, and fill in where they lack. Be cautious about selecting ‘pocket pets’ such as reptiles, rodents and other ‘exotic’ animals, thinking they will be less work for your child. These animals can often have very specific husbandry requirements and sometimes are more difficult to care for than cats or dogs. Also, fewer pet insurance companies will cover these kinds of animals.
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3) Your Budget
This is very important; pet care can be really expensive! Pet costs are more than just food and toys, pets need veterinary care, both preventative and sickness. The ASPCA estimates the average family spends about $1500 in the first year alone on a dog and about $1,000 on a cat. This doesn’t even include the possibility of your pet becoming ill or injured and requiring emergency veterinary care. Strongly consider dog insurance and cat insurance as a way for your family to defray these costs. Accidents and illnesses are a part of your pet’s life, so be prepared with pet insurance so that you don’t have to struggle to pay for necessary treatments and/or go into credit card debt to pay for treatments.
Keeping these guidelines in mind, the rewards of pet ownership far outweigh the ‘work’ and responsibility involved in caring for them. Having animals is a wonderful part of childhood, teaching important life lessons and providing companionship. Many adults fondly remember their first pet and the irreplaceable bond they shared.
Happy New Year!