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
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.
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:
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.
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.