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How First-Time Owners Can Be Pet Parenting Pros Right From Day One

Have you decided you have room in your heart and home for a new companion? It’s a big decision and a super exciting one at that! Naturally, you want everything to go smooth as silk for you and your new addition. To ensure you’re a pet parenting pro right off the bat, here’s what you need to know.

Choose Your New Family Member Wisely

Pets come in all shapes and sizes, from exotics to more traditional choices like dogs and cats. While it’s tempting to select a pet based on its eye appeal or unique characteristics, that’s just the beginning of making a decision aimed toward keeping both you and your pet happy in the long run. The traditional selection of a cat or dog fits well with most lifestyles, and there are many ready-to-adopt animals at the Belmont County Animal Shelter who need a home.

However. The Equinox points out there are pros and cons to both. For instance, dogs tend to need more owner interaction, but they are also typically more responsive to their owners. Even after you narrow that down, there is still a wide variety to pick from. There are hypoallergenic cats for those with allergies and dogs that don’t shed, dogs that prefer lounging on the couch and dogs that will love joining you for a morning run. Contemplate what makes you tick, how you normally live, and what will work best.

Costly Considerations

There is an important aspect of pet ownership that is not to be ignored but often is misunderstood: the expense. This isn’t necessarily a cheap undertaking, as the cost of a pet isn’t just the purchase price. You also have feeding, grooming, medical expenses, and so on, so run some calculations as to how much you can afford, and keep in mind some pets cost more than others. Weimaraners, for example, typically run up high vet bills, costing their owners an average of $1,111 each year.    

Another thing to consider is the role your pet will play in your life. Many people are surprised to learn there are so many laws surrounding emotional support animals, for instance. Being forewarned is forearmed, so do some soul searching into how you expect a pet to fit into your life, and then do a bit of research to ensure a perfect match.

You’ll also need to prepare for any potential damage your new pet may cause to your home. For example, if your cat treats your couch like his/her own personal scratching post, you’ll need to cover the cost of hiring an upholstery professional. The same rule applies to your carpeting if your pet makes a mess in the house.

Assemble Your Dream Team

Even if your intention is to be the sole caregiver to your new friend, the reality is that there are times when others will lend a hand. Before you ever bring your pet home, it’s in your best interest to explore who will fill in key professional roles. 

Pro Number One: Your Vet

When it comes to team members, your veterinarian is a hands-down must-have. Ask around with friends and family members for recommendations, and if you are aiming for an unusual pet, Apartment Guide points out you’ll need to find a vet who specializes in that species. 

Bring your new pet in as soon as possible for a checkup to get a gauge on their overall health. And if you have a cat or dog, you’ll want to get them spayed or neutered at the appropriate time. Once cats are 20 weeks old, they should be spayed or neutered, but you can do it much earlier than that. Traditionally, dogs are spayed or neutered when they are six to nine months of age. 

Veterinary expenses can really add up, but many owners use pet insurance to offset the costs. Shop around for an affordable plan that covers the expenses you can expect. Look into things like deductibles and coverage, just like you would when buying insurance for yourself.

The Sitter is a Close Second

Next up on critical care-team members is your pet sitter. In many ways, hiring a sitter is just as critical—and nerve-wracking—as hiring a babysitter for a human infant. You’re leaving a loved one in the care of an outsider, and your loved one can’t tell you if something isn’t right. 

With that in mind, do some looking early on. That way, if a situation arises where you need quick coverage, you aren’t at a loss as to whom to hire. Start with an online search for candidates, interview them carefully, and set up a meet-and-greet with your furry friend and any candidates you’re seriously considering. 

Don’t Forget Your Groomer

Last but far from least, a professional groomer is a boon to many pet owners. Whether your new friend needs a nail trim, coat stripping, shaving or bathing, a well-chosen groomer can reduce stress for both your and your new pet. The best groomers know not just how to make your pet pretty, but also how to handle your buddy so there is no discomfort. They use the right products for your pet to help promote healthy skin and coat, and they can even advise you on your home care routine. 

Because this isn’t a decision to make lightly, Raising Spot recommends interviewing prospective groomers to find out more about their fees and what services are included. Learn about their qualifications and background, and pay a visit to their facilities to see if you’re happy with how the animals are being handled and the cleanliness of the environment. 

Bringing Your New Baby Home

There is one last major player in your future pet’s life, and that’s your home environment. You want a soft spot for your new addition to land, so assemble all the pertinent equipment and goodies in advance to ensure your home is appropriately prepared. 

What this entails will depend in large part on your choice in the type of pet, and you’ll want to begin with their main living space. Dogs, birds, and rabbits often have cages, while reptiles, amphibians, fish, and rodents often live in aquariums. You’ll want appropriate bedding for their space, as well as toys, food, and other equipment, such as litter boxes, collars, and cleaning supplies. Also consider whether you’ll use things like child gates, pet doors, and carriers. Of course you’ll want to reward your new pup with a few treats, but look for healthier versions of their favorites that have natural ingredients and are well-reviewed by fellow pet owners.

For pets who don’t live all the time in cages or aquariums, you should do some pet-proofing in the spaces they will roam. The Nest points out that this involves eliminating both the dangers to your pet and the dangers to your home. Chemicals, poisonous plants, and other hazardous temptations should be put well out of reach, and if you want a fenced yard it should be installed before your new friend’s arrival. With everything set up for safety and comfort, you’ll be ready when the big day arrives.

Have you identified your perfect pet? Once that task is underway, assemble your dream team, and then ensure you have a soft spot for your new friend to land. Thanks to your due diligence, you’ll be a pet parenting pro, right from the start!
Thank you!

Penny Martin,

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