Pets are the perfect companion. They love you unconditionally, they are super cute, and they can help reduce the amount of anxiety you feel — what’s not to like? If you are thinking of adopting a pet for the first time, you are in for a lot of trials and tribulations, but also a whole lot of joy! To help cut down on the amount of work and stress new pet owners often face, we’ve compiled some of our best advice and tips for picking your new best friend so you both have the best experience possible.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
It’s not unusual to have an idea of what you want your pet to look like, but that doesn’t mean you have to search for a particular breed. Purebred animals — especially dogs — tend to have more health problems than their mixed-breed counterparts. As explained by Scientific American:
“…Purebred dogs not only have increased incidences of inherited diseases but also heightened health issues due to their bodily frames and shapes, such as hip dysplasia in large breeds like the German shepherd and the Saint Bernard, and patellar luxation, or persistent dislocation of the kneecap, in toy and miniature breeds.”
Adopting a pet from an animal shelter provides a home for an animal that just needs another chance. Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States because there isn’t enough room to care for them in public shelters. Pet adoption saves a life and provides another spot at the shelter for another animal that needs it.
Some people are afraid of adopting a pet with behavioral problems. While these animals do exist, not all shelter animals are unruly. Many of them are just as calm and sweet as anybody could want. Your best bet is picking a local shelter and offering to volunteer there in your free time. You will meet different animals and get to know what kind you like while also getting a better idea of what you want in a pet. Eventually, your forever friend will cross your path, and you will know it’s the perfect match.
More Tips for First-Time Pet Owners
- When picking an animal, always consider the size of your home and the amount of space your pet will have. A high-energy, active dog needs a big backyard and plenty of space to roam around. If you live in an apartment, you may want to go with a cat or a dog that prefers lazing around all day.
- Don’t ignore adult or senior pets in favor of the babies. Raising a puppy or kitten is rewarding, but it’s a lot of work. Older pets already have established personalities and hold very few surprises. They are also less likely to become destructive around the house.
- Prepare your home for your pet’s arrival before you bring him home. Start with a comfy bed where he can safely sleep, and be sure to choose the right size and style for your pet. You should also set up his food and water bowls, and stock up on eats and treats. From shedding to potty accidents, you should also be ready to deal with pet-related messes. Invest in puppy pads to protect floors, pet-friendly deodorizers to eliminate smells, and a vacuum with pet-specific features to remove pet hair and dander.
- When you bring your new pet home, give him time to acclimate to the new environment. Act normal and get him in a routine as soon as possible, and your pet will follow your lead.
- There are many ways to bond with your pet, but the best is undeniably play. Invest in a few toys your pet will love and spend some time each day enjoying them together.
When choosing a pet for the first time, avoid picking by breed. Instead, save a life through adoption. Through volunteering, you can take your time to find the perfect furry friend for your lifestyle and home. It also gives you the time to set up your home and create the best environment for your new family member.