Many families choose to add a new pet to their homes around the holidays. This time of year can be ideal, particularly if parents and children are off from work and school for 1-2 weeks at the end of December and into January. At any time of year, however, there are some things you need to do and items you’ll need to gather before you bring a new pet into your home. Read on to learn about the first steps you should take when choosing and caring for a new pet.
1) Learn About Your New Pet
Your first step should be to learn about any pet you are considering. If you have had pets before, then you know that sometimes there are surprises when it comes to what you think being a pet parent will be like and what being a pet parent is actually like. You might not have too many surprises if you used to have a cat, for example, and you are going to adopt another cat. However, going from an adult cat to a kitten or adding a cat to a home that already has a cat will be a different experience. Read books and websites about caring for a new pet. You can also talk to others who have the type of pet that you are considering. Their experience will give you some things to think about and discuss with others in your household as you make this important decision.
2) Consider the Expenses You Will Have
Even if you get a pet that is free to a good home, you will still have expenses, and some of them might be quite large. You probably already know that you will need to get necessities such as a litter box for a cat, a leash and a crate for a dog, a tank for a reptile, and so on. You might need to pay to get your pet spayed or neutered, and you will need to pay for yearly veterinary care, vaccinations, and any visits that come up if your new family member gets sick or hurt. You might also want to purchase health insurance for your new pet; if you do not, you should put money aside for any large vet bills that might come up unexpectedly. Remember that if you go on vacation and you want to leave your pet at home, you’ll need to hire a pet sitter. Think about all of the financial obligations that will arise and make sure you are in the position to meet them.
3) Consider the Time and Energy Needed
Just as important as the monetary expenses that a pet brings to your home are the time and energy expenditures. Depending on the type of pet you get, you might not be as free to do what you want as you are now. A fish or a pet snake might not hinder you from going on a day trip at the spur of the moment, but a new puppy will not be able to be left home alone for a long day. In that case, you’ll need to arrange for someone to go to your home to take them outside and to go for a walk or play. If you work long hours, you might not have time for a long walk at the end of the day, so that might make a dog a poor choice for you. A cat, however, might be perfectly happy to be left alone all day as long as you make time for snuggles in the evening. And a hamster or a reptile will barely notice your absence as long as you make sure there is food and water available.
4) Purchase Necessities
Before you bring your pet home, you should prepare a place for them. Here are some necessities you will need:
A place for your pet to sleep or live. This might be a bed for a dog or a cat, a crate for a dog, a coop for a rabbit, or a cage or tank for a smaller pet.
Food and water dishes. Smaller animals might need a water bottle rather than a bowl of water.
A way for your pet to go to the bathroom. For a cat, this will be a litter box with cat litter. You’ll also need a scoop to remove waste. For a dog, you’ll need a way to take them outside safely, either on a leash or in a fenced yard. You’ll also need dog waste bags to pick up after them.
Food that provides a healthy diet. It is best to find out what your pet has been eating to this point and to start with that so you don’t upset their digestive system. You can gradually change them over to your desired food if it is something other than what they are currently eating.
Treats. This is optional, but most pet parents like to give their pet treats at times. For a dog, this will aid in training.
Toys. Your pet will need a way to stay entertained, so you will want to have some appropriate toys on hand. Watch your pet the first few times they play with a new toy to make sure they don’t shred it or otherwise cause it to become a safety hazard.
5) Find a Veterinarian
Finally, it is prudent to make an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will make sure your pet is healthy and can recommend appropriate vaccinations. He or she will also arrange for your pet to be spayed or neutered if it hasn’t already been done. Getting a new pet is an exciting venture. Be sure you are prepared so that you can enjoy a long, healthy, happy life together!