All it takes is one carefully placed Instagram post of adorable puppies to convince you that your life will never be complete without one. After all, who wouldn’t want to bring home a fluffy Pomeranian or an affectionate Tabby cat that will provide countless hours of loyal companionship and love you can’t get anywhere else?
While it’s true that owning a pet comes with many perks and benefits, there are also certain aspects of the job that are easy to gloss over if you don’t read the fine print. They may be cute and fluffy, but these living, breathing things require more time, attention and money than you might think. Before you race out to buy that adorable, floppy-eared French bulldog puppy, here are some important things to consider first. Your future self (and your future pets) will thank you!
The Price of Impulsivity
In the words of Best Friends Animal Society, “Puppies aren’t products.” Getting a pet isn’t like buying a sweater with two clicks and returning it a day later when it doesn’t fit right. Unlike items you purchase online, animals aren’t disposable or temporary. Sadly, many pets wind up back in the shelters they came from once owners realize they no longer have sufficient time or money to care for them. (Think of all those poor pandemic puppies whose owners returned them when they went back to work.) Bottom line: Don’t be impulsive. Think things through. If you only want the puppy experience, remember that they’ll only be puppies for a short time (and that there are a lot of chewed up shoes that don’t get shown on Instagram).
Sure, you want a pet right now, but do you want a pet 10 or 20 years from now? How about for the rest of your life? The average lifespan of a medium-sized dog breed is 10-13 years, with many dogs living well beyond that. Cats live 12-18 years. And some pets, like turtles, could mean decades of companionship! Whatever animal you bring into your home, make sure you’re committed for the long haul. (Yes, that might even mean factoring them into your retirement plans.)
You know that pets cost money, but you might be surprised by all of the expenses that can creep up on you over time. Obviously, feeding a six-pound Yorkie won’t be as pricey as a full-grown Newfoundland, but food is only part of the equation when you’re factoring in costs. Between the vet bills, accessories, treats and other necessities, the cost of owning a dog typically adds up to $1,500 to $2,500 in the first year. After that, Investopedia says you can expect to pay anywhere from several hundreds to thousands of dollars for your dog or cat each year.
In the U.S., approximately three out of 10 people suffer from dog or cat allergies, which means there’s a good chance your new pup might make someone in your family a little itchy. But pet allergies aren’t something you should dismiss as a mere annoyance — they can also lead to serious breathing problems. Also, be aware that many so-called hypoallergenic animals aren’t truly hypoallergenic. (Just because it’s got “doodle” in the name, don’t assume you’re in the clear.)
If you’re not a particularly active person, it’s probably best to steer clear of pets with higher energy levels. This will require some research on your part, because sometimes the animals you think would be low-maintenance actually require a decent amount of activity. For example, many people are surprised to learn that the loafy little legs of a corgi still need about an hour of exercise each day. And if you’re the type of person who’s always jet-setting from place to place, now may not be the best time to adopt an attention-needy puppy.
Yes, your pet’s personality matters, but yours is just as important! Can you handle cleaning up puppy accidents all over your home? Will your blood boil if your cat claws that new sofa? You’re also going to need plenty of patience when it comes to training, house-breaking and having all kinds of new sounds around the house. Owning a pet is not for the faint of heart.
You might think that getting a pet is a personal decision, but you’ll need to consult your landlord as well before pursuing this new milestone — or else you might find yourself with a new dog and no place to live. Check to see what the requirements are for your particular place of living. Review your lease limitations or homeowner’s association rules that might include certain stipulations when it comes to pets.
Consider Fostering a Pet First
Okay, if you’ve read through this list and now you’re feeling slightly daunted in your quest to acquire a new dog or cat, don’t worry. That’s a good sign — it means you’re taking this seriously! But don’t discount pet ownership entirely just because you’re worried about a few of the above points. If you’re not sure if you’re ready to own a pet, consider fostering a pet to find out.
Fostering an animal lets you test the waters of pet ownership to see if it’s a good fit for you and your family before you make a long-term commitment. Not only do you get a pet trial run, but you’re literally saving lives in the process. And since shelters typically don’t have the staff and bandwidth required to care for animals with special needs, they’ll gladly accept your help!
As a foster pet parent, your job is to give an animal a clean, safe place to live while they prepare for adoption. Most of the time, these animals are recovering from some sort of illness or injury, so they require special care. The good news is that the shelter provides all of the supplies you need (including food, treats, leashes, medication, etc.). If you’re interested in fostering an animal, you can fill out an application at your local animal shelter.
However, if you’re confident that you can provide the loving, safe home every animal deserves, you can find the perfect pet for your family on KSL Classifieds.