Adopted pets make great companions, but owning a pet is a huge responsibility that must not be taken lightly. Research and preparations are necessary to ensure the process and the pet you ultimately choose are the best fit for you and your new pet. Our Staples Mill Animal Hospital team has compiled the following list of questions you should ask yourself before adopting a pet.

#1: Is your family ready for a pet?

Before bringing a new pet home, think about your entire family. Specific questions to consider include:

  • Do you have small children? — If you have a baby or a toddler, you may want to wait a few years before adopting a pet. Pets require a lot of time, which you may not have if you need to focus your attention on a young child. Consider waiting until your child is old enough to help with the pet-care responsibilities.
  • Do you already have a pet? — If you already own a pet, will they accept a new housemate? Some people adopt a new pet to energize a senior pet, or to provide company to the existing pet, but this may not be the best strategy if the pets don’t get along or prefer to be alone. 
  • Should you foster a pet? — If you aren’t sure if your family is ready to adopt a pet, consider fostering a pet for a short period to see if a four-legged friend is a good fit. 

#2: Do you have time for a pet?

While some pets, such as hamsters and guinea pigs, require less maintenance, all pets require daily care. You must be able to commit to meeting your pet’s needs to ensure they remain happy and healthy. Specific questions to consider include:

  • Do you work long hours? — If your job requires working long hours and you are rarely at home, you may not be able to properly care for your pet.
  • Do you travel frequently? — If you travel frequently and are seldom at home, this may not be the best time for you to adopt a pet.

#3: Are you ready to make a long-term commitment to a pet?

When you adopt a pet, you are committing to their care for the rest of their lives. Dogs typically live about 10 to 15 years, and cats may live 20 years or longer. If circumstances in your life change, such as marriage, moving houses, or having a child, are you prepared to continue to care for your pet? 

#4: Can you afford to adopt a pet?

Pets can be extremely expensive—the initial adoption fee is only the start. Specific questions to consider include:

  • Can you afford to feed your pet a healthy diet? — Pets require food specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs, which means you may need to purchase high-quality, possibly high-cost, pet food to ensure they remain healthy. 
  • Are you willing to pay for preventive veterinary care? — Annual wellness checks, routine vaccinations, and year-round parasite prevention are necessary to keep your pet happy and healthy. Preventive veterinary care can be expensive, although these measures are the best way to help prevent more pricey health complications. Ensure you can afford to care for your pet’s health and safety. 
  • Will you be able to afford a veterinary emergency? — Accidents happen, and you don’t want to have to decide to euthanize your pet because you can’t afford emergency care. If you don’t have savings to cover these costs, consider purchasing pet insurance to help mitigate your pet’s veterinary bills.

#5: Are you able to train your pet?

Many adopted pets are returned to shelters every year because they lack training. Ensure you have the time and ability to train your pet to prevent this unfortunate situation. 

#6: Are you willing to handle special pet challenges?

Pets can be messy, and you must be willing to handle situations that leave your home in disarray. Specific considerations include:

  • Are you willing to clean up accidents? — An adopted pet, especially a puppy or kitten, may not be appropriately house-trained, and you may have to clean up accidents. 
  • Can you handle damage to your personal belongings? — Some pets can’t resist chewing shoes and other inappropriate items. Cats may scratch and destroy furniture or curtains. Part of pet ownership is handling damage to personal belongings.
  • Do you mind pet fur on your clothing? — Many pets shed, and their fur frequently ends up on your clothing and furniture. Consider this when deciding if you want to adopt a pet.

#7: Are you prepared to pet-proof your home?

Many common foods and household items are dangerous for pets, and you must take steps to ensure your home is pet-safe. Considerations include:

  • Do you keep your garbage in sealed containers? — Pets have an excellent sense of smell, and find garbage attractive. Ensure your pet can’t access your garbage to prevent them from ingesting a toxin or foreign body.
  • Do you keep food on your counters? — Pets frequently counter surf to find treats and they may find foods, such as grapes, chocolate, and xylitol, that are toxic to pets. Ensure your counters are food-free so your pet is not tempted.
  • Are your house plants pet-friendly? — Many common household plants, such as dieffenbachia, lilies, and philodendrons, are toxic to pets.

Adopted pets are great companions, and answering these questions before adoption will help ensure the process is successful. When you adopt a pet, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Staples Mill Animal Hospital, so we can meet your four-legged friend and ensure they have a clean bill of health.