Are You SURE You’re Ready For A Pet?
The human-animal bond is a wondrous and powerful thing. Pets bring us joy, companionship, humor, and so much more. Just imagine how boring the internet would be without adorable kitten videos or hilarious dog shaming posts? But there is a practical side to owning a pet.
Everything in life costs money, and pets are no exception! First time pet owners should be prepared for the different things their pets may require. Food, shelter, toys, and other supplies are obvious necessities, but don’t forget the non-tangibles. Veterinary care is clearly near and dear to MY heart! Most pet owners understand the need for routine wellness care and vaccinations, but there are other mundane things you have to consider. We live an area of the country I like to call the “Angry Valley of Heartworm Badness,” so heartworm prevention is NOT an item to skip, for dogs OR cats! Flea and tick preventions are also important, as these little hitchhikers can carry serious diseases that (gasp!) humans can also contract! Veterinary emergencies can also be costly, in addition to emotionally stressful, so make sure that you have emergency funds set aside to cover any unexpected scenarios. Better yet, invest in veterinary insurance to help buffer the costs of non-routine care.
I will admit, I did not understand the importance of grooming for certain breeds until I was out of vet school and working in the real world. Long haired breeds or anything that has been “doodled,” need to start the grooming journey early in life to get them acclimated to the process. There is nothing that a groomer hates more than a matted, painful, bucking 80lb 1 year old golden doodle stepping onto the grooming table for the first time with an owner who doesn’t want their dog shaved short. This scenario is not fun for any of the parties involved. Start them early and bring them often to keep those coats beautiful and healthy!
Manners are important! Behavior problems are the number one reason that animals are surrendered to shelters. Please be proactive and train your pet from the get go. Start puppy classes as soon as your little furry friend is old enough! Training facilities may differ in the age that a puppy can start, but veterinary behaviorists will tell you that 12-16 weeks old is a VERY IMPORTANT time for socialization in puppies. Puppies are usually considered “fully vaccinated” around 16 weeks old, but if they have been regularly vaccinated starting at 6+ weeks then every 3-4 weeks thereafter, they should be safe to go to puppy classes by 12 weeks or so. And remember that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. If you adopt an older pet, they can certainly benefit from training and socialization too!
Cuddling with your puppy or kitten is a great way to end your day, but don’t forget these guys need an outlet for their youthful exuberance! Even adult dogs of a higher strung variety (here’s looking at you, herding breeds!), will need exercise for their physical AND mental well being. A tired dog is a happy dog! If you work long hours, plan on hiring a dog walker or signing up for doggie daycare as a way to meet your pet’s exercise needs. Running with your dog is another great way to “exercise the demons,” but make sure your pet is skeletally mature before hitting the trail. Long walks can be very stimulating and a good low-impact option as well. Don’t forget that our feline friends need exercise and environmental enrichment! Invest in cat trees, scratching posts, cat toys, and anything that will offer mental stimulation and give an outlet for normal cat behaviors. Some cats like to chase laser pointers. Some respond well to food puzzles or hollow food-filled toys to work for their meals. More insights on how to meet the behavioral needs of your cats can be found here: https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats
If you’re considering getting a pet, make sure you’re able to cover all these bases. If you can meet all of these needs and give a good home to a loving critter, then by all means, go get yourself that new furry family member!