Think You're Ready to Adopt a Pet? Ask Yourself These Five Questions First

Can I afford a pet right now? It is important that you have the financial means to provide a pet with proper care, including high-quality food and both preventive and sick-pet veterinary care. While there are many good ways to cut corners without shortchanging your pet, and great choices in pet health insurance to remove some economic uncertainty, there are still rock-bottom needs that must be covered.

Have I realistically considered the kind of pet that fits my family? You may love dogs, but your lifestyle may be better suited to a cat. While it’s not true that cats care for themselves — in fact, they frequently get short shrift when it comes to veterinary care — they are much more tolerant of days alone when the family’s at work or school. Take a close look at your schedule before you decide what kind of pet is best for you and your family.

Am I prepared to raise a kitten or puppy? The appeal of puppies and kittens is hard to resist, but the time and expense involved in the first year of a cat or dog’s life is considerable. And if you don’t put in the time, you may have behavior problems for life. For many people, an adult pet is a better option. If you must have a puppy or kitten, you may have to wait until you can provide everything the youngster needs.

Am I willing to take advice? You need to be prepared to listen to what the rescue group or shelter says when they’re trying to match you to the best pet. Good shelters have behaviorists and other experienced pet care experts working with the animals to know them better, and they offer adoption counseling to help make a good match. Rescue groups usually have foster homes, with their adoptable animals living in family situations that help to guide placement decisions. Respect the knowledge and experience of these groups, and if you’re refused adoption of one pet because it’s not a good match, don’t take it personally. Let them help you find a pet who will fit in.

Is this the best time for me to get a pet? If everything else is go, is the timing right to adopt? No matter how perfect the match, you need to get the relationship off on the right paw. That means time. I like to encourage people to take a little vacation time to set up routines and introductions. Yes, I know: You’d rather use that time for vacation. But honestly, isn’t an investment of a few days worth it for a relationship that needs to last a pet’s lifetime?

Listen to Your Heart, At Last

If you really are ready, then go! Your head has ruled that your heart can be open to the wonderful possibilities of your new best friend. So go find a good shelter or rescue group and get that pet.


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