A lifetime of love is a big commitment

At the end of a long day, there’s no better feeling than being greeted at the door by furry friends who are excited to see you. Their unconditional love, unwavering devotion and loyal companionship are a constant source of happiness.

Sharing your home with a pet is a privilege that brings tremendous joy, however, it also comes with considerable responsibility. Careful consideration is required before welcoming a pet into your family.

Canada’s Pet Wellness Report, published in 2011 by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association in partnership with Hill’s Science Diet, estimates there are approximately 7.9 million cats and 5.9 million dogs in Canada. Approximately 35 per cent of Canadian households have a dog, while 38 per cent have a cat.

Pets become a member of the family and that requires a lifelong commitment to the care and well-being of the animal. Below are five things to keep in mind if you are thinking about adopting an animal.

Avoid impulse decisions

Phil lived to age 17

It may be tempting to let your emotions take over when you meet an animal who is looking for a new home. You may be a perfect match but remember that pet ownership is for life. According to Pets.ca, the average lifespan of a dog in North America is 12.8 years. Catster reports the average lifespan of a domestic cat is 15.1 years.

Do your research – know what to expect
We welcomed Yurtle and Pokey into our lives 26 years ago. They are aquatic turtles (red eared sliders) and have a life expectancy of about 40 years. They joined our family before the Internet existed, so we had to do research the old-fashioned way – with books and by talking to people familiar with turtle care. 

Yurtle as a young turtle

There are now plenty of resources online to help you decide what type of pet is best suited for your family. Below are some recommended resources to help you get started:

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association – A common sense guide to selecting a dog or a cat
Ontario SPCA – Meet Your Match
Ontario Veterinary Medical Association – Choosing a pet

Never give a pet as a gift
While a little fluffy bunny may seem like an adorable Easter gift, don’t get swept away by emotion or the unbearable cuteness of the bunny. Rabbits can make amazing pets, however, like any other animal, they have specific care requirements. It’s never a good idea to surprise anyone with a new pet. Make sure the person who will look after the pet is part of the decision and knows what is involved in providing the best possible home for the animal.

Show me the money
Pet care can be expensive – even for healthy animals. Consider all the expenses involved in owning a pet because they can add up quickly. Have you thought about veterinary care, food, toys, grooming, licensing, microchipping, obedience classes, boarding/pet sitting, insurance, etc.

The 2016 Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Cost of Care study estimates the annual cost of caring for a dog in Canada is $3,051 and the average cost of caring for a cat is $1,817. Those costs increase for puppies and kittens in their first year. The costs also go up if medical conditions develop or if there are unexpected veterinary bills.

Veterinary care

Pokey at a recent visit to the vet

Regardless of the type of animal you adopt, you will require a veterinarian for routine, preventive healthcare as well as for any emergencies that come up. If you don’t already have a veterinarian, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has some suggestions to assist in choosing the right veterinary health care team for you and your pet.

If you adopt an exotic or non-traditional pet, your options may be limited in finding a veterinarian to provide the specialized care required. Be sure to research the availability of local veterinarians and specialists before you require their services.


4 thoughts on “A lifetime of love is a big commitment

  1. Great points, Merry. As someone with three dogs I can relate to all of these points (especially the cost of vet bills). I’ve also adopted many rabbits over the years who were first acquired by people at Easter. They can be great pets but you need to know how to care for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s nothing I love more than being greeted by our two overgrown, sloppy Labrador Retrievers when I get home in the evening… sometimes our son’s French Bulldog / Pug cross gets in on the action too. Our favourite family members, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

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