Before you buy that new pet…

Do your research into a potential pet's breed before making emotional decisions.

Do your research into a potential pet’s breed before making emotional decisions.

Our guest poster works in an ER, is an experienced Vet Tech, loves animals, and is a busy Marine wife. Please visit her blog – ABoyAGirlAndTheMarineCorps – for more great info and perspective.

WAIT!  Before you buy that pet, think about these things!

With puppy and kitten season well underway, the most common question I get asked is what to look for when choosing a new furry family member.  This is a loaded question because there are a variety of angles to consider.  Temperament, environment, current pets, children, breed and even where you adopt from all play vital roles in finding a life long new family member.

I always recommend starting with taking a long look at your current home, possible future homes/duty stations and the environment you have to offer.  When adopting any animal, regardless of breed, you have to be sure that you can meet the needs of the pet, but also that it will be a good fit for your family.

The questions I suggest asking yourself about your life and your home before adopting are:

Does the animal I want have experience with small children (if you have them)?

Not all pups or kitties are tolerant of children, even when adopted at a young age.  I suggest asking the shelter or breeder if the pet has met children and whether or not it has a good temperament for living with them.  Also, do you have the time to ensure that you can teach your small child how to handle a puppy or kitten, or even an adult pet being adopted by you?   It’s always a shame when animals end up having to be rehomed due to this issue.

Do I have time to potty train a puppy? 

Though males are harder than females to potty train (usually), there is still A LOT of patience involved.  And some breeds are more of a challenge than others to train.  Your puppy is going to pee all over your house whether you want it to or not.  It takes time and patience to potty train a puppy.  In instances where you don’t think you do have time, I encourage considering adopting an adult dog.  They are often already potty trained and can be a joy to rescue.

Can you puppy proof your house? 

A bored puppy is a destructive puppy.  And a puppy is curious by nature.  This means that your house has to be set up to keep them out of things, but also keep them from destroying your home.  Setting up your home for a puppy or kitten is very similar to child proofing a house for a crawling infant.

Have you looked into the temperament of the breed(s)?

When adopting a dog or cat, breed can play a big role in personality.  Though it’s less common to see purebred cats in shelters, all breeds are different, regardless of species.  It’s very important to not base the animal you want on how cute they are.  Cuteness will only get you so far if you end up with terrible dogs like mine!  Be sure you understand common breed traits and personalities.  There are a ton of website set up to help you learn about them all so you can pick the right pet.  Also, is it likely that you will be able to take that pup or kitty with you when you PCS again?  There are a lot of bases with breed bans in effect.  And do you have time to groom a longhaired cat?  They are beautiful, but can be very time consuming to care for.

What do you want from your pet?

Are you looking for a dog to jog with you every day?  Do you want a kitty that will be a companion to you or another pet? Do you want a lazy pet that will lounge with you?  Just as breed plays a roll in personality, it will play a roll in how active the animal is.  Do you love German Shorthaired Pointers?  I do too!  But I know I do not have the time or energy to keep one.  They need A LOT of exercise and can be very difficult to own if you can’t keep up.  It’s important to look at what roll you want your furry friend to play in your life before committing to one.

 Can you afford your pet?

This might seem like a silly question to ask, but pets are expensive.  Puppies and kittens need check ups; vaccinations and often deworming the minute you get them home.  All pets should get regular checkups too.  And factor in food, possible emergencies and toys your babies are bound to destroy and the dollars add up fast.  Before committing to owning a new/another pet, make sure you are prepared to financially care for them.

By asking yourself these basic questions, you can begin to paint a realistic picture of what pet will be a good fit for your home.  Getting a new furry member of the family is a joy, but it’s important that you know what to think about when decided to add one to your home.


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