What to Consider Before Adding a New Pet to Your Family

We have a cat and a dog. Our dog is heading toward his senior years and we are considering getting a puppy before he’s too old to be annoyed by the puppy. I’m not quite sure our cat’s opinion on the matter but my guess would be she isn’t thrilled. We have intentionally avoided shelters and pet shops because I don’t know about you but the second I find a puppy who’s puppy smell and smooshy face is simply too precious to resist it will be hard to not take her home then and there! However, I need to do some research. I need to ask the questions: Is now the right time to add a pet to our family? What do I need consider when I decide what type of animal to get? And although I am gushing about a potential new puppy these questions absolutely apply to our feline friends as well.

I called a wonderful woman, Sharon, who represents PAWS of Coronado, a rescue organization which seeks to find the best homes for cats and dogs. I asked her my questions and about what she considers when she interviews potential owners looking to adopt.

1. Research the breed

Different breeds not only look differently but behave differently. You may see a darling Jack Russel terrier in a movie or at the park, but have you researched if the breed is right for you? Or perhaps you follow a certain long haired Persian cat on Instagram. He looks so soft and noble and you know he will just fit perfectly in your lap.

Sharon mentioned that Jack Russel terriers are one of the most sought after breeds by potential owners. However they are by nature highly energetic and strong willed. These excited pups need lots of attention and consistent training; not only for the dog to thrive, but also for the owner to be happy. Some questions you may want to ask yourself if you want a breed with these personality traits are: “Do I enjoy running? Would I take my dog on runs?” “Do I have the energy, time or desire to walk my dog for long periods daily?” “Do I have the time to train my dog consistently?”

Now if you desperately want a twin to the long haired Persian you frequently “like” on Instagram – you may want to ask yourself, “Do I want to spend time daily brushing my cat?” “Could I afford to have a groomer help with the upkeep of my cat’s coat?” “Would the cat shedding be a problem for me?”

Different breeds have different personality traits and therefore different needs. Sit down and look at your lifestyle. The best way to find a forever pet companion is to find a breed which can happily coexist with your personality and lifestyle.

2. Consider the age of the animal you are adopting

Senior pets don’t always need to live with senior citizens and young pets with young people, but the age of the pet is an important factor to consider. For example, an elderly person most likely will enjoy an animal who is already house broken, does not have an dizzying amount of energy and will be a sweet companion. The last thing an elderly person may need is a puppy who wakes up at all hours of the night, has accidents throughout the house and requires frequent exercise. On the other hand, if you are a young person who has a heart for rescuing a senior animal from the shelter you may want to take into consideration senior pets may need more veterinary care than younger pets. Do you have the ability to provide the necessary medical attention for the senior animal? Do you have the time to do what is necessary to help the animal be comfortable and assist the animal in any special needs it may have with conditions likely to develop at an older age?

3. Who currently lives in your house?

Consider not only how your existing pets will react to the new addition but also the ages of people in your family. Labradors are fine with constant attention and young children climbing all over them. For example, my toddler frequently will use the family’s reclining Labrador as a step stool or she will reach into his kibble to have some herself. Some other more high strung breeds may not be okay with the constant harassment young children provide. Most adult cats are not so forgiving to young children as well. Another important thing to note is although your pet may be friendly to other animals in public, she may not be so keen on a new animal joining the family. Pets become very set in their ways and bringing a new animal into their territory can shake up the most seemingly friendly animal. It is important to be sensitive to your existing animal’s needs.

4. What is your lifestyle?

Do you travel frequently? What are your plans for your future pet when you are gone? Do you work outside the home for eight plus hours a day? Do you have a dog door or way your pet could relieve themselves while you are working? If not, could you afford doggy day care or a dog walker?

Adding a new pet to your family is a big decision! Make sure you can answer all these questions and find an animal which best fits your personality and lifestyle. Once you have done all the research, only then will you be able to know if you are ready to add someone new and can begin the search to find the perfect new best friend.

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