Planning to Get a Pet? Consider This!

Planning to get a pet? Pets can create the most incredible bond, but they certainly come with a lot of work. We recently lost our bunny, Oreo, so we ourselves are going to be getting a new pet soon. Here are a few things to consider before bringing a new companion into your home:

1. Type of Pet

Pets are going to be a lot of work regardless of what type you get, but some require more work than others. Think about what pet will suit your lifestyle and what level of care you are able to provide for them. Do you have kids and need a family friendly animal? Do you travel for work or vacation frequently? Figure out what type of animal works with your lifestyle.

Planning to Get a Pet: Cat
My old cat, Misty, who I had for 19 years!

I grew up with cats and I loved how low maintenance they were. As an adult, however, my husband is allergic to cats and dogs so we settled on a bunny for our kids. The bunny doesn’t shed nearly as much and when she does it is pretty contained. Goldfish can be a great starter pet for kids as they are pretty cheap and don’t require a whole lot of work. I still remember my first fish, Lola, who I won at the fair and she ended up living for two years.

2. Breed of Pet

Next thing to consider is what breed of that animal you want to get. You might have decided to get a dog but do you want a beagle? Or a golden lab? Or a huskie? Every breed of dog comes with their own challenges so make sure you pick the breed of dog that works best for you. Some breeds of animals are more friendly and better suited for being around kids. Others are more easily trained compared to those who take more time and patience. Consider all of these factors when picking what breed of pet will work best for you.

For our last bunny, Oreo, she was a Netherland Dwarf, which we picked mainly because of her size. We wanted a bunny that wouldn’t take up a lot of space at the time. For our next bunny, we want to get a Holland Lop because they are only slightly bigger and are supposedly even more friendly and cuddly.

3. Time Commitment

Ask yourself, do you actually have time for a pet? Pets are a big time commitment. If you are traveling for work all the time then owning a dog, who needs to be walked multiple times per day, probably isn’t the best choice. If you don’t have a lot of extra time to devote to your pet, try getting something super easy like a fish.

If you are considering getting a pet for your kids for the first time, explain to them the time commitment that comes with it. Time won’t just be spent playing, but will also include feeding, cleaning cages, taking pets for walks, vet appointments, etc. Make sure they have a complete picture of the responsibilities that come with owning a pet.

Planning to Get a Pet: Bunny
Meet our lovable, Oreo.

4. Where Will They Live

Consider your home and where a pet might go in your home. My husband had a long dream of having a big aquarium but we simply didn’t have the space in our old home. Dogs need space to walk and run around so they greatly benefit from having a fenced in yard. Your pet will grow so make sure your crate, cage, or tank is big enough from the start.

Also, think through the logistics of where you will keep everything needed for your pet. Plan out where you have room for a crate or cage, where you might keep a litter box, store all their food, etc. With our bunny, we also needed to make our home completely pet friendly. This meant making sure wires weren’t exposed that she could chew through and that cardboard boxes weren’t lying around for her to destroy.

5. Who Will be Responsible

Talk through responsibilities BEFORE getting a pet. Decide who will be responsible for feeding your pet each day, who will clean the cage or litter box, or take your dog for a walk. This is especially important if you have kids who are helping to take care of your new pet. This helps guarantee your pet will not get neglected. If you can’t agree on who should take care of the pet, then the simple answer is to not get a pet.

Planning to Get a Pet: Fish
My son’s fish, Flynn, named after Sam Flynn from Tron

6. Budget

Pets can be very expensive! Consider all costs before committing to buying a pet. While the initial adoption fee might be pretty low, you will likely want to get your pet spayed or neutered. Vaccinations also cost money up front. Some animals require a larger initial cost to set up with a cage, heat lamps, pet toys, food, etc. For our bunny, there were also the ongoing costs such as food and bedding that we had to budget for.

Know that veterinarian costs can add up quickly. Even a normal check up might cost you a hundred dollars. Then, take into account vaccinations, medications, and potential for surgeries. Some people opt to get pet insurance which will take away the sticker shock for unforeseeable problems with your pet. However, this comes at a monthly premium that should be considered just like your own health insurance.

7. Where to Buy Your Pet

Think about where you want to get your pet from whether that is from a rescue shelter, pet store, or breeder. If you purchase from a breeder, you will get exactly what you want in a pet. However, it will come at a premium cost and it can sometimes be susceptible to more health problems if it is a pure-breed. The benefit of a breeder is that these pets are often handled by humans at a very young age, which can make them more friendly and ideal for families.

Planning to Get a Pet: Bird
These birds were at a zoo in Florida, but can easily be found in your local pet store.

Rescue shelters on the other hand can feel like an extremely rewarding experience. You are saving a pet that has likely been abandoned or is in desperate need of a home. These pets can often be extremely loving to the right person and will form an incredible bond with you. The risks of purchasing a pet from a rescue though is that sometimes they have more traumatic pasts which require more love and patience to handle. Additionally, you will be more limited in your selection as baby animals, like kittens or puppies, are often first to be quickly adopted.

Pet stores offer a sore of one-stop shop for all your pet needs. You can buy your fish, fish tank, food, and supplies all in one trip making it extremely efficient and easy.

8. Veterinarian

I mentioned how vets can be expensive before, but when considering a pet make sure to do your research on your ideal vet before you get your pet. You do not want to get a pet and find yourself scrambling if they happen to get sick the first week you have them. Veterinarians that specialize in cats and dogs are fairly easy to come by. If you are considering any other pet, look for exotic vets that have worked with your type of animal before.

Planning to Get a Pet: Bunny
Oreo at Carolina Beach

Hot Tip: Consider getting pet insurance to minimize your costs at each appointment. It works similar to your own health insurance where you pay a premium and have a deductible you have to meet.

9. Training

A lot of animals don’t require any training but dogs are the exception! Your dog does not need to know any fancy tricks, but learning basic commands like sit, stay, and down are greatly beneficial. Look into training facilities or classes that you can get your dog enrolled in as soon as possible. For the best chance at success, it is important to instill good behavior consistently from the beginning.

Hot Tip: Websites like the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers can help you easily find a dog trainer in your area.

10. Pick Name

This is the fun part of having a new pet! If you are like my family though, this could be a long process with many opinions and options. I recommend thinking of names once you have decided what type of pet you might get. Narrow your choices down to less than five names and then make a decision once you meet your new companion. Use online resources to help generate a list of names. Our family has fun reading off names while on a long road trip and laughing at all the ridiculous ones.

We recently got a new Holland Lop bunny, who is currently only 3 months old. Meet Skipper!

Not ready to commit to a pet just yet? Check out my post for some other fun kid activities that will keep them busy.

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