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7 questions to ask before committing to pet ownership

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While it's tempting to adopt immediately based on adorable pictures or meeting the animal in person, you need to remember the responsibilities of owning an animal.

Welcoming a new pet into your home is one of the most exciting experiences you'll ever have. Animals make wonderful companions, and they bring joy and warmth into the lives of the people around them. There are several ways you can adopt a pet these days, from talking to a breeder to visiting your local shelter to connecting with a family on social media who needs to re-home an animal.

While it's tempting to adopt immediately based on adorable pictures or meeting the animal in person, you need to remember the responsibilities of owning an animal. Caring for another living being is not all about cuddles and treats.

Here are seven questions you should ask yourself and your family before making the significant choice to adopt a pet.

What type of pet do you like?

It doesn't make any sense to force an adoption if you aren't a fan of the breed you're adopting. If you're on the fence, it's best to allow another family to take the pet. Think about the types of animals and personality traits you prefer. Brainstorming about those things now will help you make an informed decision when you're ready to adopt.

What is your lifestyle?

An active animal won't respond well in a home where the owners are constantly busy working or are absent often. If you like to travel frequently, you'll need to consider the costs of daycare or whether you can bring your pet along for the trip. Animals who don't like people won't adapt well to parties or large families. Homes with lots of fragile or expensive items may not be suited for certain pets, either.

Do you have kids or plan to have them soon?

Some shelter animals don't mix with children, and sometimes kids are scared of large animals. Make sure to ask about an animal's past and personality to identify any triggers that could endanger your family. If your children are old enough, talk to them about adopting a pet and see how comfortable they are with the decision. It's also wise to include your children in the responsibilities of ownership because it teaches them lessons about taking care of others and helping around the house.

Do you have other pets in the home?

Cats probably won't cooperate with dogs, birds, or hamsters. Even if you are combining the same type of animal, it's still a good idea to try socializing them together before committing to an adoption.

What are the triggers of an adopted pet?

You could have some serious training to do if your new pet experienced significant trauma before entering your home. Sometimes the shelter will know about that trauma and will tell you what to expect. Other times, you could be surprised when a trigger pops up during your daily life. Even if you buy from a breeder, you should take note of the lifestyle the animal grew up with so that you can replicate it or train against it early in the pet's life.

What is your financial situation?

Pets cost money. Food, treats, toys, leashes, vaccinations, licenses, and training classes are all part of owning a healthy pet. Additional expenses for medical bills can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Pet insurance can help offset some of those emergency costs, but then you're on the hook for a monthly bill. Create a budget before you buy a pet to ensure you have enough extra money to handle the basic costs of ownership plus any emergencies.

What are the rules regarding animals in your current living situation?

Apartment landlords will probably charge you several pet fees to account for any damage to the unit. They also can charge pet rent per month, and they may have a restricted breed list. You don't want to blindly commit to adoption before finding out that your new pet is banned from the building. Homeowners have much more leeway, but you could still be liable for noise complaints or a pet that escapes and causes problems on someone else's property.

The final question to ask is, "Are you ready to have fun?" Above all, pet ownership should be enjoyable and exciting. It almost certainly will be life-changing, and if you prepare properly, that change will be one of the best choices you'll ever make.

Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.