Similar to getting pregnant, there’s no such thing as perfect timing when it comes to becoming a pet parent. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, which makes “perfect” a fallacy. However, you can do your best to ensure that you’re ready, willing, and able to adopt or purchase a pet at the most ideal time.
Before you even start looking for your new fish, dog, cat, hamster, or other pet, do a quick assessment of your environment and lifestyle to see if you’re truly ready for the responsibility it entails.
1. You Understand The Role And Responsibility Being Assumed
Becoming a pet parent is a huge responsibility. Do you understand how having a pet will likely alter your lifestyle, commitments, financials, and daily life in general?
The American Veterinary Medical Association offers an excellent checklist of what it means to be a responsible pet owner. Are you ready to commit, invest, obey, identify, limit, and prepare for your pet? If so, then it may be time to select your pet.
Many people refer to their pets as their children, and the reasoning often extends well beyond affection. Like children, pets demand your time and attention. Whether you call yourself owner, companion, roommate, or parent, the overall role is still the same, though. You’re assuming responsibility for that animal’s critical and basic needs, which often hinge upon you being able to read between the barks, meows, gurgles, etc.
2. Your Routine Is Healthy And Stable
Of course, different animals require different degrees of pet maintenance and care. With that in mind, you still need to have a stable and healthy lifestyle before adding another soul under your care.
Look at your overall health, sleep patterns, eating habits, and even attention to basic household chores. Do you have healthy habits? Do you make an effort to go to the doctor when needed?
Now, examine your schedule. Is it stable and accommodating to the tasks already on your plate?
If you’re taking good care of yourself and have a well-established routine to care for yourself and other responsibilities, then you’re likely able to add a pet to the mix.
3. You’re Not A Frequent Traveler
Pets have emotional needs.
The best pet parents can be home with their pets the majority of their free time. Most pets can handle or even need, some alone time. However, studies have confirmed that most pets deeply miss their owners when they’re away long periods.
Of course, this longing for your presence can create unwanted behaviors, such a s chewing, barking, depression,, and even aggression, of the need isn’t satisfied.
In adopting a rescue animal, it’s often very important to the pet’s emotional health that they feel safe and secure. Remember, rescue animals are often the victim of abuse and neglect.
The exception to this checkmark is if you plan to make your pet a travel buddy. Once you’ve taken steps to ensure that they’re in safe and secure hands, your pet can make an excellent travel companion.
4. You’ll Be Calling The Same Place Home
If you’re a frequent mover or have circumstances that make your living arrangements uncertain, you may want to hold off having a pet.
Relocations can be highly stressful for even the most adapted pet, and symptoms of pet stress can be quite disturbing and disruptive.
Plus, moving could mean that your pet-friendly housing today isn’t so friendly in the next location. So, ask yourself if your goals, relationship status, or employment are likely to cause a move soon before you take on a pet.
5. Your Employment Is Stable
A stable job means a stable routine – set hours, set expectations, set demands. Adjusting to a new job or position isn’t the time to add more uncertainty with a new pet.
If you could be called in to work at any hour/day or work long periods, you’ll need to have a plan on caring for your pet. Ask yourself if you really have the time it takes to properly care for him/her.
6. Your Finances Are Good
Pets are costly, and there’s more to account for than just their diets and toys.
According to ASPCA, you’ll spend around $1,000 on the first year of dog or cat ownership. Of course, that’s not accounting for any health conditions, injuries, or training associated with your new pet.
Look at your monthly budget. Do you have room in your discretionary spending for the new category of pet care?
Check your emergency fund and healthcare budget. Do you have leeway for the added expense of pet insurance, any routine meds your pet may need, and any emergency vet bills?
If so, you’re likely financially sound enough to become a pet parent.
7. You’ve Done Your Research And Know Your Limits And Needs
Pets vary so greatly in what type, degree, and cost of care they need. If you’re truly serious and ready to become a pet parent, then you’ll have done the research to determine the exact type of pet that best suits your environment and expectations.
There are a lot of helpful resources in doing so, such as this CBC pet quiz. Make sure that you consider this major points:
- Environment – pet-friendly neighborhood and housing safety and security?
- Dwelling – will the pet be kept inside or outside?
- Size, appetite, and strength of the pet in relation to feeding, bathing, walking, etc.
- Affection – an animal to be held or seen?
- Adaptation to your family size and dynamics – kid, guest, elderly friendly?
Once you have these basic questions answered, it’s easy to establish the precise type of pet you want and know if you’re ready to handle its requirements.
8. You’re Willing To Push Forward Through The Initial Stages
When you first introduce a pet to your home, there’s generally a period of adjustment, learning, and training for animals that will have free roam of your property. Are you prepared to clean up urine, poop, vomit, and other accidents? Are you ready to handle anxious behaviors, such as chewing and barking?
9. You’ve Already Been A Surrogate Pet Parent
Do you have a friend or family member that’s constantly turning to you for pet sitting and care services? If so, and you’re comfortable doing it for other pets, you’ll likely make a great pet parent if you’ve checked off the long-term responsibilities like finances and lifestyle from above.
10. You Don’t Mind Saying No To Social Opportunities
While a pet doesn’t equate to being a hermit, you’ll need to recognize the possibility that you may have to say no to spur-of-the-moment or extended leave social opportunities. Those post-work drinks, long weekend getaways to the beach, and so forth may not be feasible if you’re the single parent to a pet waiting patiently to be fed, walked, and loved.
11. You Don’t Mind The Mess
Depending on the pet you have in mind, they can leave you some rather gross cleanups. You’ll be responsible for cleaning up dog feces on your walks. That fish tank can smell like a death sentence. Cat hairballs can make for an interesting slip-and-slide across hard flooring. From drool to the dreaded stomach worm infestation, pets can be messy critters. Are you ready, willing, and able to answer those calls to duty?
12. You Can Physically Care For A Pet
This should go without saying, but you’ll need to select your pet based on your physical abilities to care for it and, if necessary, control it in public. Someone with worsening arthritis, for example, may not be able to care for a leashed animal over the long-term of its life. Choosing an active animal that needs outdoor recreational time, for example, may not work if you’re only home at night, can’t walk long distances, or are disproportionately sized to the animal.
Consider the “what if’s:
- What happens if your animal escapes from where it should be?
- What happens if your health condition worsens?
- What happens when an adolescent animal reaches full-size?
- Think about your life span and physical conditioning to know if you’re physically capable of having a particular pet.
13. You’ve Decided If You Want To Either Adopt Or Buy
Adopting verses buying is a major pet parent decision. Knowing the answer without hesitation shows maturity, thoughtfulness, and responsibility. There are pros and cons to both options. But the point here is that you’ve taken the time to give the differences careful consideration.
14. Your Pet Will Have It’s Own Space
Like humans, pets require certain necessities – a place to eat, sleep, and potty. Of course, the amount of space varies greatly from animal to animal. A gerbil doesn’t require the amount of space a horse would, for example. Of course, you’ll need to also consider your outdoor capacity if applicable.
Ensuring you have adequate space for your pet needs is crucial to both you and your new pet’s physical and mental health. In fact, that caveat is often part of local pet ordinances set by your municipality. You can incur some hefty fines and penalties for ordinance violations.
15. You Want To Be A Caregiver, Not Owner
While society often refers to having a pet as pet ownership because we, as the human, have a moral and often legal responsibility for the lives we take into our homes, the mentality behind having a pet shouldn’t be one of owning another living being. That mindset devalues the love and care necessary to fulfill a parenting role in your animal’s life. So, ensure that you have the right motives and mentality, which is one centered around offering care and devotion to a new family member.
Did You Find Out You Were Ready To Become A Pet Parent?
In closing, the above 15 signs are a good indication that you’re ready to become a pet parent. Be careful that you don’t just have a majority, however. Each element is just as important as the next. Just because you can offer a good home and adequate physical care doesn’t mean you have the financial capacity or vice versa.
If you’ve got a perfect score, then congratulations and best of luck with finding your new pet baby.