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  • Writer's pictureColleen O'Brien, DVM, CVA

Questions to Ask Before You Get a Pet

There are many ways to get a pet: adopt, buy, or open your car door and see what jumps in. Okay, that last one may only work for me.

Once you've reached a decision to get a pet, whether it is your first one or your tenth, there are several things to consider.

1. What species of pet? Most people understand that basic requirements of dogs and cats but exotics, pocket pets, and fish require special care too. While they may occasionally seem like lower maintenance pets, they have very specific needs that if not attended to, can result in a drastic decline in health and a short life span.

2. What breed do you want? Now that you've picked your species, you need to decide what breed you want? Big or small? Lazy or active?

3. What health issues come with the species/breed you chose? Is the breed prone to anxiety? Heart issues? Allergies? Do not just look at a cute picture and stop there. Find out about their health.

4. What do you know about the breeder? If getting a pet from a breeder, you need to make sure there is a health certificate signed by a veterinarian. Think of this as a CarFax report. You want to make sure you are starting with a healthy pet. Find out about the health of the pets parents and grandparents. Did they develop any cancers? Did they live long healthy lives? Does the breeder even know any of this information, or did they just breed a supposedly healthy 2 year old, make a profit, and never look at the long-term consequences?

5. Do you have the time and energy to dedicate to a pet? Not only will your new pet require training, they are going to require your effort. A newly adopted pet may be anxious after spending time in a shelter and take more time to socialize. Working breed dogs require that both their mind and body be challenged so that they can direct their energy somewhere.

6. Can you afford a new pet? Food, toys, beds, and vet care all come with a price. Make sure before getting a new pet, that you are prepared for the financial commitment.

7. What do your other pets think? Do you know if your current pet(s) like other animals? Remember,they will have to live with the new pet too.

8. Do they allow pets where you live? Do they have restrictions? Don't lie and claim your pet is a service animal if it is not. If you live somewhere that does not allow pets or the type of pets you want, move, or don't get one.

9. Are you ready for a life long commitment? Your new pet will need you there beginning to end, and they'll likely be there for you too. Be prepared for a decade or more (a lot more if you get a parrot), of companionship


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