More and more pets around the world are finding themselves without homes as a result of us leaving lockdown and steadily returning back to normality. Families and individuals did not consider that when we eventually eased out of restrictions, headed back to work and could reintegrate into society, pets would still be a commitment they would have to consider, and unfortunately, many weren’t able to keep them.
But on a lighter note, these pets are slowly but surely finding their way into the open and loving arms of families, couples and animal-lovers in every country, but many are still looking for their forever homes.
Whether you’re a canine companion, a feline fanatic, fond of all things small and furry or even the scalier sorts, there’s the perfect pet waiting somewhere for you. But first, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before picking up your new forever friend; they may be ready for you to whisk them away to give them a new lease (or leash!) of life, but are you truly ready for them?
The last thing we would want is for you to have to part with your new companion as a result of your lifestyle, whether it be work related, family centred or financial. Here are 5 ways to know that you’re ready for a pet. Let’s go get you your furry (or not so furry) friend!
You’re ready for the unexpected
When adopting any pet, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s a potential that you may be getting more than you bargained for. Some animals have had traumatic experiences, especially rescue pets, and may have behavioural problems as a result. You should be prepared that your new family member may have some issues that require your time, patience and effort to resolve and work through.
They need your love and support, and so you should be aware that this is always a potential when you welcome a new pet into your life. It may be that you require help working through these issues. There are a lot of pet behaviourists who can work with you and your pet to help you both. Don’t give up on your new friend, they need you just as much as you need them.
A pet fits your lifestyle
You obviously feel that you want a special (4-legged) someone to share your life with. If you’re energetic, love getting out into the open air and going on long walks, a dog might be the perfect match for you. But if you are around less because of work commitments or a busy social life and wouldn’t be able to take your four-legged friend out on their regular walks, maybe considering a smaller sized animal, like a hamster, bunny or reptile may be a better option for you.
However, if it’s within your budget to afford a dog walker or doggy day care service who can walk and keep your dog socialised and with company when you simply don’t have the time, you can still have the pleasure of your furry-friends company whilst making sure their needs are met; this is something to take into consideration before getting a dog in particular.
A cat may be more suited for you if you work a 9-5 and want a furry companion who is independent and that you don’t have to regularly walk, but still want to love and care for when you are at home. They could move in and out of the house as they please (by means of a cat flap) and you can rest assured they’ll be ready for you when you get home.
But remember, all animals are social creatures, they want your company and love, so don’t consider any of these animals if you simply do not have the time to take care of them.
You’re ready to provide a safe and stimulating environment
If you’re wanting to welcome your future best friend into your home, you’ve first got to make sure that you’ve made your house as comfortable, safe and as stimulating a space as possible.
Keeping your house free of potentially harmful substances and objects
If you’re going to have your new pet running around in your home, you want to make sure that they can roam freely without causing themselves any harm. No matter what size or species, objects such as exposed cables that some animals may be more inclined to chew, poisonous or harmful substances and plants or very hot objects are things to be aware of.
Now I’m not saying you should rid your house of these potential hazards completely, but merely consider the risk they pose to your new friend and try your best to eliminate them. Try keeping poisonous foods away from your pets reach, the same goes for hot objects, and keep an eye out if your pet is near, or is eyeing up any cables or small chewable objects (that may potentially be a choking hazard) like a tasty snack.
A list of some poisonous substances and plants for some popular pets include:
– Human medications
– Artificial sweetener (xylitol)
– Citrus fruit
– Bread with yeast
– Iceberg lettuce
– Some green leafy vegetables including broccoli, cabbage and kale
– Be aware of bacteria that may be in live feed, feed frozen for 30 days is the safest options for your pet
– Follow the suggestions above
Provide your pet with a safe haven
Your pet needs somewhere it can feel safe and secure whilst living with you. When your pet may be feeling overwhelmed, stressed or may need some time and space to themselves – just as we do sometimes – a place that they can call their own in your home is an essential.
For dogs, this may be a crate or a bed kept in a separate room that they can take themselves to when they feel they need to. For cats, this may be cat beds or a cat tree where they can stay secluded. For small furries, simply a lot of bedding that they can shred and snuggle into might just do the trick. Make sure your pet has their own little home in your home.
Provide cognitively stimulating activities
Make sure your pet has plenty of things they can keep themselves occupied with. Like us, they need to keep themselves busy and stimulated, but unlike us, they don’t have work, family commitments and a trip to the shops to do that for them! It’s as simple as providing them with toys to play with and tasty treat related activities. Make sure your pet doesn’t become bored and that they’ve always got something to keep their minds active.
You can afford it
There are lots of financial factors you’ll need to consider before finding your future friend. The most obvious of which is the cost of food, an ongoing cost that you’ll need to be prepared to fork out on a regular basis, and some being more expensive than others. Some breeds of dog may require more specialist diets (such as raw meat), or reptiles who require feed such as insects and rats may mean that more is coming out of your pocket than you originally anticipated. Make sure you do your research on how much food will cost before considering finding your four-legged friend.
A further constant cost is insurance. You want to make sure your pet is constantly covered for their health, and so regular monthly payments with pet insurance companies is the best way to go about this. Again, certain types of animals and their breeds can influence how expensive your insurance may be, so again, make sure you’ve studied up to see if you can financially afford this commitment.
If your pet were to ever fall ill or become injured, insurance won’t cover the full cost of vet bills. Make sure you are prepared for this eventuality and that if something were to happen to your pet that you would be able to afford to give them the proper care they need.
When you jet away on your holidays in summer, if you can’t take your pet with you, you may need to consider who is going to care for them whilst you’re away. If you have family and friends who can help take care of your family member, then that’s a bonus, but if not, you may need to look into day care or holiday care / boarding options. Some of these options can be quite expensive, so make sure you’ve figured out who’s going to take care of your pet during your holidays and that you can afford it.
Toys, treats, and more are extra costs that you’ll need to top your pet up with every once in a while. A smaller and less substantial cost, but a cost nonetheless. Make sure you have some change to spare to give your furry or scaly friend a treat or two!
You know it’s for life
The reason we’re finding many pets in need of good homes around the globe is because of a lack of foresight. Granted it’s difficult to consider how circumstances may change in the future, but lockdown pets have been a common addition to many homes and unfortunately this has meant many have had to part with their families because they simply can no longer care for them.
So, simply put, if you know that a pet is for life, not just to keep you company until you return to work, before you move abroad, or have other major lifestyle changes, then that’s a number one way to tell that you’re ready for a pet.
Owning a pet can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have. A mutually rewarding, loving and enjoyable experience where you and your new friend can form a lasting bond. I wish you luck in your search for your future ‘furever’ friend.