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Committing to your new pet

Getting a pet isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s a commitment! You are essentially taking responsibility for another life, and you need to do your research on all the time and money you’ll need to spend to ensure your pet lives a happy and healthy life. A new pet shouldn’t be a spontaneous decision – take the time to learn what exactly you’re getting into.

The first and most important thing to consider is how long your potential pet may live. A dog may live to be about 8-13 years, depending on the breed (smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds), but a cat can live into its late teens if it only stays indoors. Smaller rodents like rats and hamsters may live two to three years, but a rabbit can live up to 10 years! If you’re thinking of giving someone a pet rabbit to celebrate Easter, consider another gift unless you know your gift recipient is willing to commit to a rabbit’s care and needs for the entirety of its lifespan. Behind cats and dogs, rabbits are some of the most frequently surrendered animals at shelters, especially following the Easter holiday.

Check out this post to see the average lifespans of some other potential pets.

If you are feeling good about the number of years you are going to be spending with your pet, you now also need to feel good about the money aspect. Pets need food, supplies, toys, veterinary exams and sometimes training, and all those bills will add up quickly.

When you adopt a dog, you need to consider getting it spayed or neutered and up-to-date on vaccines (although many rescue and adoption organizations have done this already), buying a collar, harness and leash, a crate for your home or in the car and signing up for training classes. A bag of dog food that lasts you a month can cost around $50 (or more, or less depending on the type of food), plus all the toys and treats and pet security items you may need to install around your home. Before you know it, your first year with your new puppy may cost you $1,000 minimum.

Much the same is true for cats, and you also have to buy litter and plenty of scratching posts, so they don’t claw up your furniture. It’s also important to prepare for unexpected veterinary expenses for your furry friend, especially as they get older. See some other cat and dog expenses you might not have thought of here.

Some animals like fish and reptiles don’t have as high of annual expenses as cats and dogs, but they do have higher startup costs, in addition to the costs of the regular activities associated with responsible care, such as water filter replacements and additives for water changes for fish or terrarium needs for reptiles For your new pet snake, you need to buy an appropriately sized terrarium, bedding, UV lamps and/or heat lamps and hiding spots, and you need to figure out where that terrarium is going in your home. Once that is all set up, your primary focuses will be maintenance and food, but you better also be comfortable with what you’ll be feeding your pet snake.

Although it’s not as easy to quantify, you should think about how your new pet may impact your life. Do you like to travel often? Well, an animal who needs you to be around often, like a dog or a cat might not be the best for you. If you work all day, you may find it hard to come home to give your dog walks or play with your cat. If you have roommates, you need to make sure they’re on board with everything as well, and if you live in apartments, you often need to pay a pet deposit to allow your pet to live there.

These considerations aren’t meant to discourage you from adopting a pet – pets add so much to our lives and are beloved family members.  It’s just important to understand the commitment required in giving any animal the care it deserves. Too many pets are returned to shelters or, worse, let go outside because their owner wasn’t up to the challenge. But, if you are comfortable with changing your life around to accommodate a new member of your family, pets are truly wonderful, and you can look forward to many years of building a relationship with your new furry, scaly, feathered or finned friend.

If you’re ready to add a new dog or puppy to your family, be sure to visit us for ZooPaws on April 27! Dogs and puppies will be available for adoption from 12 different organizations, so come meet your new best friend!

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