So you’ve decided that you want to get a pet. Congratulations! Studies show that pets can help lower blood pressure and reduce depression. But pets are also a lot of work and they should never be adopted on impulse. They’re a lifetime commitment! Before you take the plunge into pet parenthood, follow these three important steps.

Smiling kid wearing a colorful sweater is looking to a hamster eating a slice of apple. Selective focus on hamster.

  1.  Consider your schedule and lifestyle. Some pets — such as fish, birds and cats — are relatively low maintenance. They’re generally good for people who live in apartments or those who work long hours. A dog, on the other hand, is not ideal for people who aren’t home much of the day. Dogs need a lot more attention than most other animals. If you work long hours or live in a small space, a dog probably isn’t the best choice. You should also consider that most pets will need to be housetrained. Do you have a space that’s conducive to housetraining
  2. Consider your finances. Pets not only require a lot of time, but a lot of money as well. Most will need regular grooming, food and veterinary care, which can really add up. In fact, the first-year cost of owning a dog is $1,270. For a cat, it’s $1,070. For each additional year, it’s about $500. However, for certain breeds of dogs, after factoring in specific food and medical expenses, that cost can be much higher. Are you prepared to spend this much money? If not, it’s a good idea to look at something that doesn’t require as much money, such as a guinea pig, hamster, bird or fish. But even then, you should be prepared to spend money on food, cages and regular veterinary care. When people adopt on impulse without realizing how much money pets require, the result is that many pets end up in shelters.
  3. Get all of the essentials. If you’ve considered your schedule, lifestyle and finances, and you think you’re completely ready for a pet, then it’s time to get everything you’ll need. Think about food, crates or cages, beds, bowls, leashes, collars, treats and toys. It’s important to have everything in place before welcoming your new furry friend so that he or she feels loved from the start.

By considering these three steps before you adopt a new pet, you’ll ensure that you don’t end up taking on something that’s too much work for you right now. If you do decide that you’re in a place where you can be a great pet parent, congratulations! Owning a pet is one of the most rewarding experiences in life.

Little girl laying down near the red kittens


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