Pets are, for many people, one of the ultimate life goals. Some strive to get one as soon as they move out, others postpone it to “after college”, others are, sadly, allergic… Regardless, most of us have wanted a pet at some point in our lives, be it a puppy, a kitten, a snake or a pet hippogriff (alas).
Now, however, before you finally make your dream come true, there is a lot of things you have to take into consideration. A lot. Some are pretty straightforward and obvious (i.e. the illegality of keeping wild animals as pets unless they’re rescues); some are a bit more of a thinker.
Here I am, a person who has always dreamt of a couple of personal pets just to myself, helping you consider those things – just like I was helped.
Ease of cleaning
While this point is not just about dogs, it is also about dogs.
Still, all pets (and, for some kinds – their living spaces and enclosures as well) need to be cleaned regularly. And, often, it’s a lot of effort.
The difficulty of this arises from the sheer size and unwillingness to be washed when we’re talking about dogs, and the complexity of living conditions and living spaces when it comes to aquariums. Everything matters. Be careful and think of this in advance.
Need for attention
Some animals need attention selectively – like cats. They’ll let you know when they do.
Others need attention as often as you can give it – like most dogs. They will still let you know, of course, but it’s usually a given.
Some need special attention. Lizards, turtles and other similar animals often need to be fed by hand (and lizards eat worms and similar stuff, so good luck). Parrots need to be let out of their cages to roam around, so you need to be sure all windows are closed.
It’s a lot of little details like that, and they all are important.
Your own lifestyle
This point arises from the previous point at large, but still. Often, animals might need more attention than you’re capable of providing.
In addition, if you move a lot, it may be very stressful to your pet cats or lizards; less so for your dogs because they adapt relatively quickly, but they still dislike the process of travelling. Some breeds (pugs, mostly) can’t be taken onto planes… There’s a lot of issues that arise from that.
It’s okay to be busy and to travel a lot – but don’t get a pet that would not adapt to your lifestyle. It’s a strain for them and for you, equally. Even more so for them.
One issue that I did not, however, mention in lifestyle – because it’s its own separate issue – is the fact that a lot of houseplants, for example, are toxic to cats; chewing gum is toxic to dogs; all in all, it is incredibly important to make your house as accident-proof as possible.
It’s not possible to avoid completely all danger in the world just because you’re well prepared – just as it is with kids, one day they will, somehow, get hurt – but getting your dog hurt because you left some chocolate on your magazine rack is kind of irresponsible, and will make you feel creepy.
Do you have a pet already? Are you living with somebody? Have you ever interacted with the specific pet you want to acquire?
Be aware of your allergies in advance. Check if your pet would take to getting used to a new friend properly. Check that your partner, whom you’ve moved in with recently, is not allergic (or, perhaps, incapable of tolerating some animals because of own trauma).
All of these are serious problems, often looked over until it’s too late.
If you’re vegan then you should get a rabbit, not a cat who’s an obligate carnivore – in the case that you don’t want to feed them meat.
If you’re terrified of worms and insects then, maybe, hedgehogs and lizards are not for you.
If you want to rescue a fox, then you should be aware that they need bone marrow in their diets.
Snakes mostly eat mice and rats. That might really be uncomfortable to some.
It’s regrettable for some people, but it’s the truth. Humans are omnivores; a lot of the animals aren’t.
As unpleasant as it is to consider this, pets do, often, require a lot of money.
They get sick, they need check-up veterinarian visits, they need their own separate food, they need, often, bigger cages and enclosures… The list goes on.
A lot of medical treatments are not cheap, either. All in all, you’ll have to spare a bunch of cash, one way or another. And there’s no need to put yourself into financial difficulties just because you want a fluffy (or scaly) friend – that day will come, be patient.
Just do your research
Overall, the best advice I can give you is to look everything up in advance, before getting a pet.
Different breeds of dogs and cats often require different amounts of attention and of playtime/exercise; they also befriend other pets with more ease. So, Google is a good friend here. A lot of pet owners might give you useful insight. Hell, just talking to your local veterinarian might help you a lot with your decision.
Shelter dogs and cats might require special care. Purebred dogs and cats are more prone to hereditary or chronic issues. Pitbulls need to be paid for some extra – in the UK, that is.
Be inquisitive in advance – it’s so much better to know things beforehand than to get you or your pet (or both) hurt.