Advice for a First Time Pet Owner

Don’t shop – Adopt!

  • There are many rescue and shelter organizations in the area. Here are a few to get you started on your search for a new family member.
  • Consider a senior pet. There are plenty of older animals in shelters that are less likely to be adopted than younger animals. Seniors need love too!
  • If you are set on a certain breed, please research your breeder before purchasing. Do a home visit to see where the puppies or kittens have been living and ask for references. Reputable breeders will be totally okay with these requests!

Research the breed you are interested in.

  • Not all breeds are created equal! Some may have too little or too much energy for your lifestyle.
  • Research the traits of the breed(s) that you’re interested in. You may think they’re the absolute cutest but they might not fit in with your family or lifestyle.
  • Some traits to consider:
    • Exercise requirements
    • Shedding/grooming
      • Is daily brushing required? Monthly haircuts?
    • Appetite
      • Large dogs eat LARGE amounts
    • Cuddler vs Active
      • (Where do you want your dog to be in the evening? Beside you on the couch? Playing with his toys? Running the trails with you?)
    • Space requirements
      • Apartment vs House with a yard
      • Size of kennel or crate
      • Size of cage or aquarium/terrarium

Pets are a long term commitment.

  • They are not disposable
    • You are committing to providing for your pet for their entire life
    • Not all life expectancies are the same, another reason to do your research. Some birds can live over 100 years!

Looks and needs change as your pet ages.

  • They’re not going to be puppy or kitten forever, they WILL grow
  • Many changes take place as a pet ages, some of these are cosmetic (warts, hair loss/coat change, cataracts)
  • They may need medications and treatments that are possibly life-long

Even if the animal is free, caring for them is not.

  • ‘If you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet!’
    • Responsible pet ownership involves regular veterinary care
  • Vaccines, exams and deworming are some of the recurring expenses
  • Other unexpected expenses may arise: Injuries, dental work, lab tests
  • Medical care is not the only expense; Food, treats, toys, crates, pet-sitting, and grooming (to name a few) can add up quickly

Work and Time are involved.

  • Although it’s a big decision, your work doesn’t end with picking out your pet
    • Feeding, training, bathing, running or walking, and playing all take time
  • Behavior modification
    • Trainers or classes may be required
    • Training doesn’t end in the first year, other problems may arise that will need to be addressed later on
  • You are the only thing in their life
    • Although your pet is a wonderful part of your life, he is only one part. However, you are his WHOLE life. Spend time to make his life special like he does for you.

Pet insurance is available and highly recommended.

  • There are many different Pet insurance companies now.
    • Petsecure
    • PetPlan
    • Trupanion
    • Other companies are starting to offer Insurance for pets as well
      • CAA
      • President’s Choice
    • The earlier you start the cheaper the rates may be (especially if the animal is healthy when you apply)
      • Some companies offer free trials for younger pets as well
    • Packages range from accidents and illnesses only to coverage for all veterinary related expenses or even a yearly ‘allowance’ for veterinary care

Pet ownership is one of the most rewarding things in life. Good luck with your new pet and remember we are always happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have!

Written by: Kaila Montgomerie, RVT