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National Pet Day – Things to know before buying a pet

Apr 05, 2024 01:07PM ● By Holly Curby

Humane Society of Utah adopted dog, George. (Photo courtesy of Christy Green)

Have you ever wondered how a pet can transform your home and heart? As National Pet Day approaches (April 11), it's the perfect time to reflect on the profound impact that pets have on our lives. However, beyond the obvious joy and companionship, pet ownership comes with a myriad of responsibilities that often go unnoticed until one becomes a pet parent. We're not just talking cuddles and cute Instagram moments; it's about the responsibility and enrichment that come with welcoming a furry, feathery or even finned friend into your life. 

Deanne Shepherd, former director of Marketing and Communications of the Humane Society of Utah shares three things to consider when buying or adopting a pet.

1. Do your research. Consider what you’re looking for, what your interests are, what your activity level is, and make sure you find the right fit for both you and the animal. What animal fits best for your living conditions? What is the lifespan of the animal you are considering and is that time you are willing to invest in caring for the animal? What do your schedule and commitments look like? Do you have the time and money to care for the animal and its needs? Are there any restrictions on the type of animal you can have or limitations as to the number of pets you can have where you live? Don’t fall in love with a dog or cat because of the unique breed or look, but rather do your research on the animal ensuring you both are a perfect fit for each other, otherwise, the pet may tend to act out in behaviors that we don’t appreciate. This research can significantly influence the long-term happiness of both the pet and the owner.

2. Consider your options. If purchasing from a breeder make sure to visit the home and meet the parents. Check out the living conditions. Ask about warranties. Do they invest in the veterinary care and well-being of the animal? There are hundreds of thousands of animals in shelters across the country that are looking for a new home too. Adopting through a shelter can help rescue an animal—giving it a second chance at a new loving home. Often shelter animals have been spayed and neutered, vaccinated and even microchipped. Although it may be tempting, Shepherd cautions to never buy from a seller in a parking lot where you can’t see the conditions the animal has been raised. Among the many risks of such situations is inbreeding which can result in behavior or health problems. She also cautions to always ensure you’re working with a reputable source to avoid online pet scams.

3. Be prepared for time and costs. Animals function best when they have a routine such as being fed at the same time each day. Think through who will be the primary caretaker as well as what role your children (if applicable) will play in the responsibilities of caring for the pet. Remember there are many factors in caring for a pet such as cleaning up after the animal, and ensuring you have time to dedicate for a current pet to acclimate to having a new pet in the home. There are also many initial costs involved in getting a pet such as purchasing toys, a bed, a litter box and litter, a leash and collar, an ID tag, being spayed or neutered, vaccinations and pet-proofing your home. Ongoing costs to expect are vaccination boosters, food, treats and annual wellness checks as it’s important to establish a good baseline for health and behavior by having them checked out every year. Additional costs could include pet insurance, grooming, training, microchipping, boarding or home care when you travel, and emergency visits or treatment (however, again, consistent veterinary care can help with early detection and treatment of potential issues). 

Training and acclimating a new pet can be a test of will, but the benefits of owning a pet can encourage patience and positive reinforcement. Forbes reported that owning an animal can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside and socialize, as well as decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels as a result of regular play time and walks. Pets can even help manage loneliness and depression by giving companionship.

Owning a pet is a rewarding journey filled with learning and love. By preparing properly, educating yourself on best practices, and embracing the commitment it entails, you'll ensure that both you and your pet enjoy a fulfilling life together. Although the bond between a pet and its owner can be unique, if for any reason the conditions are not working for you or your pet, bring the pet to a local shelter so they can help find it another home. Let's honor National Pet Day by acknowledging the depth of our relationships with our animal companions and striving to be the best pet parents we can be.

Want to learn more? Check out Season 2 Episode 10 on Holly’s Highlights where we’ll dive into the dietary needs of your pet, common household dangers that could pose risks, human foods that are toxic to animals, the life span of various animals, the pros and cons of pet insurance, positive training tips, how to treat allergies that may arise from owning a pet, and more. Holly’s Highlights podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, as well as on λ