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Pets 101

Questions To Consider Before Adopting A Pet

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Before adopting any pet, talk to all family members.

  • Discuss expectations and responsibilities.  
  • Take a realistic look at your physical abilities and at your family's lifestyle. Keep in mind your needs, and that the needs of each type of pet differ.

Questions To Think About No Matter What Type Of Pet You Are Considering

Ask the following questions and whatever additional questions fit your and your family's life:

  • Do you have the time to take care of a pet? The energy level?
  • Would the responsibility be stressful for you?
  • Do you have the financial means? 
    • Costs include purchase, feeding, ongoing medical care and possibly medical care for a major illness. 
    • Consider whether to get pet insurance.
  • Could living with the pet that appeals to you have an adverse effect on your health? If there could be risk, are there precautions to take? Ask your doctor. (For tips about how to avoid infection from your pet, click here.)
  • How much care will the pet require?
  • What role will each family member play in the pet's care? For example, who will:
    • Feed, groom and bathe the pet? 
    • Clean its living space? 
    • Walk it, if need be? 
    • Take care of the pet if you can't or if you are away?
  • What kind of medical care will the pet need? How much will that cost? 
  • Do you have enough space in your home for the pet to live and exercise?

If you are thinking of getting a dog:

  • Think about your lifesyle, physical and emotional condition. Look at the various aspects of the breeds in which you're interested. A vetermarian or public shelter can help fit a dog to your individual needs. Also consider consider using the Tripp Test For Selecting a New Dog which can be found at: offsite link
  • Shedding can be a serious problem for some people. Is that the case for any of the people with whom you live? If so, there are dogs with hair (which does not shed) instead of fur (which does.)
  • Are other members of your household or friends who visit you regulalry allergic to dogs?
  • Consider an adult dog instead of a puppy. Puppies require training, can be destructive and can be more susceptible to disease which they can pass on to you if you have a weakened immune system. Taking a rescue dog also saves a dog's life.
  • You may be liable if the dog causes injury or death. The risk can be covered by insurance. It is generally covered in homeowners insurance policies.
  • Getting assistance from a trainer to help you train a dog will make training easier. Your veterinarian may have a recommendation. If not, you can find a professional through the American Association of Pet Dog Trainers, offsite link or 800.PET-DOGS

If you are thinking of getting a cat

If you have HIV/AIDS or a lowered immune system for any other reason

If you have a lowered immune system,  consider an animal that  may be trained to poop outdoors and those that are incapable or can be trained not to bite and scratch,

The FDA advises that you avoid contact with the following animals that are more likely than others to carry diseases:

  • Reptiles (turtles, lizards, and snakes)
  • Baby chicks
  • Ducklings.
  • Exotic pets, especially those taken directly from the wild.

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