There are over 70 million pets in the United States these days. Pets have not only become a big part of our lives, but big business too. There are stores dedicated just to pets. The need for veterinarians are on the rise and the need for veterinary specialists are on the rise. Pets can help make our family whole. They can fill a void for those who live alone or for couples without children. They help us feel less lonely and can encourage us to get more exercise, depending on the type of pet. Pets can help teach children responsibility as the pets need constant care of one form or another.
Is pet keeping right for everyone? The simple answer is no. Pets can be costly to care for properly. They need food, water, shelter and vet care for the basic minimum while some pets need regular grooming. Special types of care and food is required for many exotic species. Many people will impulse buy a pet without thinking of all that is needed. You see advertisements all the time of people needing to “re-home” their pets because they are moving or “just don’t have time” and they have had the pet less than a year.
There are many things to consider before purchasing or adopting a pet. First, do I have the right home life for the pet I am wanting to purchase? You think a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd would be great to own because they are beautiful and intelligent. But did you know they require hours of mental and physical stimulation and exercise every day. Putting on of these types of working dogs with high energy and high drive in an apartment or even a home with a yard and not providing lots of social interaction and exercise outside the home and yard will lead to lots of misbehavior by the dog? What about purchasing a parrot of some kind? Did you know that all birds are noisy, but some are very loud? You would not want to purchase a large Macaw while living in an apartment complex with close neighbors who could easily hear the bird through the walls. Birds also can be quite messy with the seed hulls and each species of birds can require specialized diets. Other exotic animals like fish and reptiles may require special housing, heating implements, and bedding. Some need lots of natural light, while others do better away from windows. Does your house have the space for these types of aquariums and cages? Can you afford all of the things required?
Another thing to consider before the acquisition of a pet is your own lifestyle. How busy are you? If you want to get a dog, but you frequently travel out of town, would bringing a dog into a situation where you are gone so much be fair. The dog would have to spend many hours in a boarding facility or with a pet sitter. Dogs crave being with their family because of their natural pack behavior. Constantly leaving them for lengthy periods of time is highly stressful on them and can lead to issues like separation anxiety.
Though pets are one of the most wonderful additions to anyone’s life, please be considerate of the pets mental health and needs before purchasing or adopting. Do your homework on what will be required and how much it is truly going to cost. If you know your life is in a position for big changes coming soon, consider waiting a while before obtaining that pet so there will not be a need to re-home your pet when those changes do arrive. Please always be responsible and caring when you choose to include a pet in your life. Preparing ahead will help alleviate any negative issues that might arise by not fully understanding what is going to be required. Pets deserve the best we can give them and not just to be treated as an afterthought.