In America, most of us have one or more pets. A dog, cat, bird, or other pet can offer companionship, love, and so much more.
Despite all the many benefits of having a pet, there are challenges as well. If you are thinking about getting a pet, you should seriously consider, “Are you ready for a pet?” There is a lot more to think about than just cozy snuggles and games of fetch. This is a living creature who will become part of your family and your life.
Welcoming a pet into your home is more akin to adding another member to your family than buying an item. Pets have needs and feelings and those are important to consider.
Here are four things to ask yourself when wondering, “Are you ready for a pet?”
1. Make Sure You Can Afford a Pet
“Are you ready for a pet?” starts with your finances. You will need to pay for food, treats, and a lot more. The specifics depend on the type of the pet you get. For example, a bird needs a cage, but a cat would require a carrier that is used far less frequently. Likewise, a dog probably requires a leash, but a cat likely does not. A fish tank is a very different investment than a chew toy.
Likewise, you might have costs related to your home that impact your finances in regards to getting a pet. For example, if you have a leaking roof that is not a trivial concern. That is a cost that could impact your budget while you’re still thinking about getting a pet and sway your decision. Don’t overlook those costs, even if they are tangential.
Step one is to realize that different pets will result in different costs. That may very well impact your decision about getting a pet and that is fine. Those costs are not trivial. They could seriously impact your life and your pet’s life. You don’t want that pet not to be comfortable and happy due to a lack of planning.
Compare, for example, the upfront and lifetime costs of owning a dog versus a cat.
For a dog, you will pay an adoption fee of up to $500. Vet visits for a dog cost $45 – $200, for an estimated lifetime total cost of $540 – $2,400. Compare that to a cat, where the adoption fee is lower ($200) but vet visits are higher ($50 – $400 for a lifetime total of $750 – $6,000). This is partially because the estimated lifespan of a cat is slightly longer than a dog’s. However, that is very much part of the consideration when it comes to costs.
There are plenty of other costs to think about as well. For example, a dog is more likely to need grooming, which could be up to $14,000 across their lifetime, but a cat is far less likely to need grooming and even at the high end will only cost $4,500 in grooming costs.
Dental care is the same ($7,500 lifetime) for both dogs or cats and vaccinations are roughly comparable. Spaying and neutering also costs the same regardless.
Medications are another area to think about when thinking about “Are you ready for a pet?” They tend to cost the same for a cat or a dog (about $7,500 lifetime), but this is a highly variable area in terms of costs. You cannot know when adopting exactly what medications your pets may come to need in their lives and it’s therefore tough to definitely estimate this cost.
As mentioned above, there are also tangential costs to consider. “Are you ready for a pet” encompasses more than just the pet themselves.
A major consideration is any outstanding bills, debt, or repairs you might have weighing down your budget. You should definitely factor those kinds of costs into your decision. If you need to hire heating and cooling contractors, for example, that should take precedence over the choice to get a pet.
2. Prepare Your Home
Preparing your finances ties into preparing the rest of your home for a pet. Having a pet could fundamentally change your home and your life. While asking “are you ready for a pet?” you should also ask “is my home ready for a pet?”
For example, do you currently have a fence? When you moved into your home you might not have thought about hiring a fence contractor, but a fence is good to have when you have pets. While it obviously isn’t a concern for something like a bird or fish, if you are looking at cats or especially dogs, a fence is an important investment.
It isn’t just about containing your pet, either. Yes, a fence can help if an indoor-only pet gets out, but a fence isn’t only a barrier. If you have a pet who can safely enjoy the outdoors, a fence can give you peace of mind. Many people let their dogs and even cats roam the backyard and feel secure in the knowledge that they’ll stay within the area that’s fenced in.
If you don’t already have a fence, you may want to look into fencing installers while asking yourself are you ready for a pet. This can be part of your planning for this exciting new addition to your family.
There are more things to consider, however. Some people add pet doors to certain areas of their home. Others will build elaborate “cat playgrounds” that run along the ceilings of several rooms to allow their cats some adventure and exercise inside the home.
There are also considerations that aren’t as obviously related to the decision to get a pet, however. You need to think about your entire home and not just the parts where the pet will spend most of their time.
For example, is your HVAC system in good repair? If you need HVAC repair you might want to get on top of that before getting a pet. It’s not simply a matter of comfort, either. It is also about making sure you won’t take an unexpected hit to your budget right after getting a pet.
There are many other areas to think about as well. You might want to give your whole home a decent look over while thinking about “are you ready for a pet?” There could be repairs you don’t even realize you need that could make you pause in your decision to get a pet. That delay could ultimately be for the best though, as it will put you, your family, and your budget in a better state for adding a new family member to your home.
Also think about areas outside your home, though. It isn’t just about the backyard. How is your garage? If you need to repair or replace your garage door, for example, that could be a big budget consideration that impacts your planning around getting a pet.
Ultimately, you want to be sure that your home is ready for a pet. That means doing repairs and maintenance as well as ensuring the home will be comfortable for the pet. A big dog in a small apartment isn’t comfortable for anyone. Conversely, a home that is fully prepared for a pet before they arrive is a happier situation for everyone involved.
3. Clear Hurdles Early
There could be some unforeseen hurdles involved in getting a pet. To the extent possible, try to anticipate problems before they have a chance to arise.
We just mentioned the garage. If you don’t use your garage very often, you might not even realize that you need residential garage doors services until it is urgent. Discovering a problem like that all of a sudden can turn the joyful occasion of adopting a pet into just another source of stress in your life. This should be a happy occasion. Don’t let a surprise repair ruin it.
It isn’t just about home repairs, though. How is your car? Car repairs can be another big, nasty surprise for the budget. If you aren’t sure if your car might need a tune-up soon, now is the time to find out. Get repairs done or at least make sure you know when repairs and routine maintenance are coming so you don’t get surprised.
Your car is important when you live with other people or pets. It isn’t just about the financial. In the case of an emergency, a car could literally be life-saving. It is worth it to take some time and look at your car while you think about “are you ready for a pet?”
You also should clear up any legal concerns you might have. If you have ever gone through the system or had to deal with a bondsman because of a criminal offense, you might, unfortunately, face some hurdles when you try to get a pet.
If you have a past conviction, you should look up the laws and guidelines in your state in regard to getting a pet. Depending on the type of conviction, you may be barred from adopting a pet. There may be exceptions or loopholes, but you will need to dig into the law in your state to find out. Definitely research in order to answer the question, “Are you ready for a pet?” You don’t want to get your home and finances all in order only to find out that the law stands in your way at the last moment.
4. Do Your Research
Finally, when you find yourself thinking “are you ready for a pet?” also think about doing your research. Being prepared will be your best ally in this process.
You don’t only need to do research into the hurdles, either. You should also look up the best toys for the type of pet you plan to have. That is just as important for you and your pet’s happiness as all the research into whether your yard needs to have a fence or whether your finances are in order.
You could put your mind at ease with this kind of research. Pets can certainly be messy. Researching something like stain-resistant carpeting or waterproof flooring could provide you peace of mind ahead of this big decision. Research can be a way to alleviate fears and anxieties as well as a way to ensure your home and finances are in order.
It also isn’t a bad idea to do some specific research into the exact type and breed of pet you are looking at. We have provided general advice, but the specifics of your situation could change things quite significantly. A Pomeranian is not the same as a German Shepard, either in costs or care. Make sure you actually know what you are getting into by doing specific research.
For example, when it comes to dogs, different breeds could require very different types and amounts of dog grooming. Some dogs need a lot of grooming, for their health and not just for their appearance, while others do not.
In the end, the question isn’t just “are you ready for a pet?” It’s “are you ready for this specific pet?” Where you live, your financial situation, your home or apartment, and many other factors will all weigh on this situation. One of the best things you can do is just research and prepare as much as possible ahead of time so you know you are ready.
A Happy Decision
The choice of getting a pet is a happy one. “Are you ready for a pet” should be a question that makes you excited, even if you have concerns and considerations to take into account. Don’t forget even while doing your due diligence that this is an extremely happy occasion for you and your family.
A pet isn’t just a one-off decision. All that diligence and research is worth it because this is a choice that will impact your life for a long time to come. A pet is a treasured member of your family so don’t take this decision lightly. This is a time to be prepared and logical, even while making a choice that will bring you love and joy for the future.