Before adopting your four-legged friend

Allison Schrader

There’s nothing like a bringing home a new bundle of furry joy. Picking out a cat or dog to adopt is an exciting decision and one that should be taken seriously. A few years ago, my (not entirely sober) friend brought home a kitten from a cardboard box on a whim. Although her intentions were good, this is not the ideal way to adopt a pet. Here are some things to keep in mind, suggested by ASPCA, before adopting a four-legged friend.

1. Pets are a long-term commitment

Sometimes when people adopt a dog or a cat, they don’t fully realize the level of dedication this requires. Most dogs live between 10 to 15 years, and cats can live to be 20! Think of everything in your life that can change in two decades – moves, jobs, children, mid-life crises, etc. Keep in mind that your new furry friend will be in your life through all of these changes, and you’re responsible for its well-being no matter what challenges head your way.

2. Research which breeds fit your lifestyle

Most people are aware that there is a huge difference between a Pit Bull and a Pekingese, but it’s important to know what kind of pet you will be adopting. Different breeds require different environments, grooming, health care, training, and attention. Some breeds, both dog and cat, are not suggested for households with small children or families who live in apartments. Although every animal is an individual, certain personality traits are shared within most breeds. Do a little a research before making a decision on which breed is right for you.

3. Pets cost money (and lots of it)

Just like humans, animals need health care, too. Veterinary services can add up quickly. Be prepared to take your pet in to the vet at least once a year – and this is a conservative minimum. Anyone who’s had pets knows they can’t help but get into trouble. Every time Fido swallows a condom (true story), every time Fluffy gets a fishhook stuck in her lip (another true story), a trip to the vet is necessary – and expensive. Don’t forget about food, toys, collars, grooming services, and kitty litter. Bottom line: your financial responsibilities don’t end with the adoption fee. Check out this pet care cost estimator from the ASPCA.

4. Pets require training

It’s irresponsible as a pet owner not to train your dog. Not only does this make your life harder, but it makes life harder for your pooch and others around you. Who wants to listen to a dog barking next door all afternoon, or be mauled by an overly excited, slobbering canine at a friend’s front door? The answer is no one. The earlier you start training your dog, the better. And even though cats can’t exactly be trained the same way that dogs can, there are steps you can take with litter box usage and scratching to evade future problems.