Animals bring so much joy into our lives, helping to improve our health and well-being, lift us up when we’re down, and ease feelings of isolation and loneliness. But as first-time pet owners, it’s important to know exactly what we’re getting into — as caring for an animal is a huge responsibility and oftentimes a commitment of 10 or more years.
A pet’s life expectancy varies by species, breed, and other factors, but many rabbits and dogs, for example, can live to be 12 or 13 years of age. On the other hand, cats, parakeets, horses, and tortoises tend to have longer lifespans. Be sure to do your research before welcoming any type of animal companion into your home, whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, mouse, guinea pig, fish, tortoise, or any other type of pet.
Check out the following tips to ensure you’ve covered all your bases before welcoming a pet of any kind into your home.
1. You’ll Need to Choose the Right Type of Pet
The right type of pet for your brother or best friend may not be a good fit for you, and it’s important to carefully consider the specific type of animal companion you welcome into your life. For example, certain types of pets aren’t ideal if you suffer from allergies — and some animals (such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and horses) require much more space to live and exercise than other types of pets (like mice, rats, and hamsters). All animals, however, require some level of exercise outside of their cages each day.
Some other things to consider when choosing a pet include:
- How much time and money you have to give your pet the attention and care he needs.
- How much indoor and outdoor space you have for your pet to play and exercise.
- Whether you’re allowed to have pets in your home (if you rent an apartment or townhome, for instance).
2. Smart Pet Supplies Are Better for You and Your Companion
As you prepare to welcome a pet into your home, there are lots of different supplies you’ll need to stock up on: Food, dishes, beds, leashes, collars, and nail clippers are just a few of them. Depending on the type of pet, you may also need a crate, cage, or exercise pen to safely house your companion while you’re away from home.
Smart supplies are also worth the splurge, as these tech-forward products can be used to train, feed, and groom your companion, and make life as a pet owner a whole lot easier. Some of the best smart pet supplies include pet blow dryers, pet cameras sync with the cloud, dog training collars, automatic feeders, and self-cleaning litter boxes. Just remember to pay attention to online reviews to ensure you’re not purchasing a lemon for your pet.
3. Animals Need Time to Adjust
Though you’ll likely be excited to spend some quality time with your first-ever animal companion, your pet will need some time to adjust to his new home. Don’t expect your pet’s true nature to shine right away: Most animals need a few weeks to settle in — and rescue pets may need even more time.
4. All Pets Need a Savvy Veterinarian
To keep your animal companions safe, healthy, and happy in their new home, you’ll want to establish a relationship with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Some vets only see dogs and cats, while others specialize in small animals and exotics. You can usually find a good vet by searching the internet, contacting local rescues and special interest groups, and using social media to ask for recommendations.
5. Pets Get Stressed, Too
Living with a pet is a wonderful stress-reliever, but animals can be negatively affected by human stress — particularly work stress. As such, it’s important to keep your own stress levels under control and make sure you’re regularly practicing self-care for not only yourself but also your new animal companion.
To keep your stress levels in check and create a healthier living environment for your pet, aim to work from home about once or twice or week. If this isn’t possible, consider hiring a pet sitter to occasionally care for your animal companion while you’re away. And when you are home with your pet, be sure to spend some quality time with your companion: Cuddle up with your pet, give him some pets, and keep your voice calm and low-pitched.
Owning a pet is a major life decision that shouldn’t be made overnight. Give yourself plenty of time to consider the right type of pet for your home and lifestyle, and do lots of research before welcoming an animal companion into your home. You may be tempted to walk into an animal shelter and see where your heart leads you, but taking the time to prepare your home and life well in advance is the best thing you can do for yourself and your future pet.
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