Many people around the world receive a new dog or cat during the Christmas period. It’s always with the best intention, as pet ownership can be one of the most amazing experiences, and it’s rewarding for the animals with thousands of homeless pets having the chance to find their forever homes.
Your new cat or dog will be part of the family for years — so it’s important to take time to research and find the right one, and to consider their arrival and integration into your lives. Responsible pet ownership begins with this critical step. Here are seven factors to consider before introducing a new pet at any time of the year:
1. Finding the right cat or dog
Every cat and dog is different — their size, age, energy levels and temperaments can all have an impact on the family dynamic. Finding your new cat or dog can be an exciting experience that will require research and planning involving the entire family. What we have learned from years of knowledge and insights gained by working with veterinarians, is that they are a key resource for information. Their professional experience can help you select the best type of dog or cat for your lifestyle, home and needs. They can also recommend local animal shelters or breeders.
2. Budgeting for pet-related expenses
To have a cat or dog in your family can be expensive, but ask any owner and they’ll tell you they are worth every cent. First-year costs can be especially pricey, for instance, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates the first-year cost for new pet owners is $1,270 USD ($1703 AUD) for a dog and $1,070 USD ($1435 AUD) for a cat. Remember to budget for both routine and emergency medical care, food, bedding, toys, grooming and costs associated with providing a safe environment (such as fencing).
3. Selecting who will care for your cat or dog
Make sure to choose a veterinarian before a pet comes home and plan for potential pet sitters and dog walkers (if required) to meet your new cat or dog before hiring them.
4. Special health conditions or dietary needs for your pet
Learn what your new animal needs to be healthy and happy at home with you. Your veterinarian is the best reference for this advice.
5. Making time for your new pet
Family time is precious — and even more so with a new pet. Work, travel and long hours, as well as after-school activities and responsibilities will impact your cat or dog too. Socially responsible pet ownership also includes planning for care. Can everyone in the family help care for the pet — feed, exercise, train and play — or does the responsibility lie with you?
6. Research pet training facilities
Cats and dogs need love and attention, but they also need to learn your expectations. Training your new dog requires patience, dedication and persistence — and also requires time and money. Be sure to check references and make time to teach your dog.
7. Getting your house pet-ready
Before bringing a new pet home, think about what’s best for the animal. Prepare a dedicated space with the appropriate supplies and toys before their arrival. Your pet’s environment is important.
Some breeds need more mental stimulation and space and some are better suited in a rural environment. Before finding your new cat or dog, check out any government or building regulations regarding pet ownership. In many cases, these ordinances will determine what kind of pet, if at all, a family can have.
As a company dedicated to a cat and dog first approach, ROYAL CANIN® is committed to doing what’s best for dogs and cats. It’s one of the reasons we work so hard with veterinarians, breeders, academics, and other professionals in the field to truly understand pets like nobody else. That’s why this year it’s time to think differently about the giving season. Don’t give a pet, plan for a pet. Having a cat or dog join a family is one of the most rewarding, wonderful experiences. With the correct planning, we can make sure that the pet has a home for life.