For the love of you pet: Think before you adopt or buy a pet
My daughter really loves animals and wants to get a pet. What are some things I need to consider before I get her one?
Being a responsible pet owner is essential in making your experience enjoyable and will help prevent future problems with your pet. First of all, you want to commit to the idea of getting a pet. In other words, make sure it is not an impulse decision and you have thoroughly considered all aspects of getting a pet (i.e. scheduling, potty training, cost, time, etc). When selecting a pet, take your home and lifestyle into consideration. Dogs need a lot of exercise; therefore, if you live in an apartment, you need to keep in mind that they will need frequent walks and exercise. If most of your furniture is made of expensive material, then a cat that can potentially damage the furniture may not be the best option. If you need help choosing the right pet, you may want to research the breed as well as consult your veterinarian to help make the decision that best fits your lifestyle.
Once you pick your pet, you will need to commit to building a relationship with your animal. Appropriate exercise and mental stimulation is vital in providing a good home life for your animal. Proper socialization is also very important. You will need to spend some time introducing your pet to new people and other animals. This will help alleviate any anxiety or stress if a new pet is introduced into the household or when visiting the veterinarian's office.
Adequate training is also imperative so that your pet doesn't have accidents in the house and is easy to control when around other animals. A little work in the beginning will make your life much easier down the road.
Don't forget about the fact that your pet is an investment of time and money. Make sure you have budgeted appropriately so that you can provide proper preventative health care (vaccinations, parasite control, heartworm prevention, etc). It is also important to save up for emergencies, illnesses and/or injuries. Make sure that you also purchase proper identification (i.e. pet tags, microchips, and/or tattoos).
Obey all local ordinances, including licensing, vaccine protocols, leash requirements and noise control. When taking your pet on a walk, clean up after your pet. This will prevent the spread of disease and is also a law in many cities.
Do not allow your pet to stray, reproduce, or become feral. This will only contribute to our nation's animal overpopulation and infectious disease problem.
Prepare your furry friend for an emergency or disaster. Assemble an evacuation kit and plan. Make arrangements in case you cannot provide care for your pet.
Pay close attention to your pet's behavior, eating/drinking habits, bowel movements, and body condition. Changes in your pet's habits or demeanor may indicate a health condition and require a visit to your local veterinarian.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding choosing the appropriate pet, preparations for your new animal, or local requirements, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Shana Bohac has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. She works on small animals and equine patients. Submit questions to email@example.com.