There’s no feeling like becoming a pet parent. Your pet will become a family member, and many of us refer to our beloved dogs and cats as our children. Unfortunately, if you’ve never cared for a pet, becoming responsible for them can be scary and intimidating. Being a pet parent is hard work, but it’s worth it because there’s no love like the love between you and your dog or cat. Here are a few essential tips for first-time pet owners:
Prepare Before They Arrive
Before bringing home your new pet, ensure you have everything you need for them, including food, toys, and treats. Try not to leave your pet home alone the first day you get them because it can cause anxiety. They’re in a new place, and you don’t always know how they’ll react. For example, anxious dogs can become destructive, so consider adapting your lifestyle and especially clothing to keep up with them. High quality, ethical clothing options are great incase your pet gets a little destructive, or they need consistent outdoor time. Additionally, making a list of everything you’ll need and ensuring you have everything before you pick them up will prevent you from needing to spend any time away from them during the first few days. Instead, you can focus on bonding!
Consider Whether You’re Ready
Unfortunately, many first-time pet owners make the mistake of not questioning whether they’re ready for a pet. It’s a common misconception that pets are easy to care for. While cats are lower maintenance than dogs, all pets require proper care. A few things to consider before adopting a pet include the following:
- Time: Cats are fairly independent, but they’re still social creatures. They’ll rely on you for activity and companionship. Meanwhile, dogs are companion animals and can’t be left alone for too long because they require frequent potty breaks. So always ensure you have enough time to care for your pet before bringing one home.
- Lifestyle: Everyone has a different lifestyle; some people spend their entire day at the office, while others enjoy traveling. Whatever the case, you must ensure pet ownership will suit your lifestyle. For example, if you travel for work, you likely aren’t home enough to care for a pet.
- Cost: Pets cost money, and most people don’t realize how expensive they are until they get one. Regular costs include food, toys, treats, training, and vet visits, all of which can cost a few hundred dollars every month, depending on your dog or cat and their needs. Pet ownership costs are higher than ever, with vet emergency vet visits costing hundreds of dollars, so you should be prepared to provide your dog with the best possible care by setting aside a little extra money for them.
- Type of pet: As we’ve mentioned, cats are lower maintenance than dogs because they don’t require frequent outside potty breaks. Meanwhile, fish are easier to care for than cats. The type of pet you get can affect whether they’re the right option for you, so weigh the benefits of different species and breeds.
Invest in Training & Socialization
Did you know that you can train a cat to do tricks like a dog? Cats are smart, and you can teach them various tricks. However, since they spend their time indoors, teaching them obedience is not necessary. On the other hand, dogs need obedience training to help them understand how to act in certain situations. For example, dogs have to learn how to act in public and inside your home. If you don’t invest in training, your dog will do whatever they want, including house soiling, jumping on guests, or simply not listening to basic commands (because they don’t know them).
Socialization is also crucial for both cats and dogs. Socializing your pet can help them feel confident in new situations and around new people and pets. Pets who aren’t properly socialized can be timid or aggressive, and they may have a range of behavioral problems because they feel unsure and even anxious.
Know What to Feed & How Much
Your pets need balanced diets. For example, cats are obligate carnivores, and dogs are omnivores that rely on animal protein and plants. Additionally, your pets need food based on their life stage. For example, you’ll find food for puppies, adults, and seniors. This is because dogs and cats require different nutrient balances based on age.
In addition to feeding your pet a balanced diet, you must know how much to feed them. More active pets should eat more. However, pet obesity is a common problem for dogs and cats. Regularly overfeeding your pet food and treats can cause weight gain, obesity, and associated health problems like diabetes. Therefore, it’s always best to consult a vet who can tell you how much your dog or cat should eat based on their activity level, age, and overall health.
Find a Vet
Every pet will see their vet at least once yearly for their annual wellness exam. However, kittens, puppies, and senior animals should see their vets more often. You can take your pet to any vet, but we recommend finding a regular vet you use for every appointment because it will allow your dog or cat to get used to their office and staff. In addition, when your pet feels more comfortable at the vet, they’ll be less stressed and more able to accept and tolerate getting the care they need.
All pets need mental and physical exercise. Without it, they can get bored and engage in destructive or aggressive behavior. For example, dogs may run around the house, steal your stuff, or chew on furniture when they don’t get enough exercise. The exercise requirement of pets varies depending on species and breed. For example, working breed dogs require more exercise than lazy dogs.
Just as important as physical exercise is mental stimulation. Your pet needs a good balance of physical activity and another activity that forces them to use their brains. For example, you can find puzzle toys or play games with their pets to stimulate their mind to prevent boredom and give them something to do instead of begging for attention.
Becoming a First-Time Pet Parent
Becoming a pet parent is a big responsibility. First, you must ensure you’re willing to take care of them to the best of your ability, which means knowing how much they cost, ensuring they eat a healthy diet, and exercising them enough every day to prevent boredom and support their physical and emotional health. Are you ready to become a pet parent?
Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.
Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/woman-in-white-shirt-kissing-brown-puppy-DI6blvti51g
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