There are many reasons to love pets — they are great companions, are loyal and can even help us reduce stress. It’s also why many people end up getting a dog or cat before they are even ready.
You have to consider many factors before deciding to bring home a new cat or dog. Owning a pet requires a lot of time, money, and commitment, so you’ll want to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge before you begin your pet parent journey!
Here are 4 things to consider before getting a pet:
Why do you want a pet?
First, it is good to ask yourself why you are thinking of getting a pet:
- Are you lonely?
- Do you need emotional support?
- Do you want to save a shelter animal?
Identifying your reasons will help you to understand your underlying motivations better. It will also help to solidify your decision and verify that it is not simply an impulsive thought.
You might also want to think about what type of pet you want as different pets come with different needs.
For example, cats are generally lower maintenance than dogs when it comes to time commitment. You can even consider a pet fish if you want a pet that is less time-demanding.
Are you ready to commit?
Pets can be quite a handful. Like a human baby or child, they come with financial, time, and emotional commitments. Getting a pet will almost definitely change your lifestyle. You can expect to accommodate your schedule according to their needs.
Cats and dogs have an average lifespan of 10-15 years, so you have to be ready for a long-term commitment. Pets need consistent care and attention, and it can be very time-consuming. Generally, the younger the pet is, the more attention they will need.
When you get a pet, you are committing to:
- Feeding them several times a day
- Grooming them and cleaning up their mess
- Taking them on walks and playing with them
- Training them and pet-proofing your home
- Taking care of them when they fall sick
- Bringing them for their regular vet visits
...and so on.
Be prepared to dedicate at least 1-2 hours a day to your new pet. But don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it seems! Give it some time and before you know it, your pet will become a natural part of your daily life.
Can you afford a pet?
There’s no sugar coating it — pets come with a huge cost. The common costs that you would expect are pet food, lifestyle items, grooming costs, medical bills and more. For a more detailed breakdown of the costs of owning a pet in Malaysia, check this out!
It is difficult enough to juggle the recurring costs associated with pets. Imagine if you are faced with unexpected pet medical bills that you are unable to pay. As a protective measure, you may want to consider getting pet insurance.
Oyen is a digital pet insurance provider for pet cats and dogs in Malaysia. Pet owners can buy pet insurance online in a matter of minutes.
Oyen covers pet medical costs up to RM8,000 annually, which can be claimed for vet consultation, surgical fees, medication, x-rays, blood tests and more. With insurance, you can significantly reduce unexpected vet bills and have a peace of mind when unexpected medical situations come up.
Do your circumstances allow for a pet?
It is also important to consider if a new pet will fit into your current lifestyle.
For example, do you work long hours? Do you have a child at home? Do you travel often? You have to assess how a new pet might conflict with your current circumstances.
Additionally, you should consider how your family or housemates feel about your decision. While you may be its owner, your pet will have an impact on the people around you as well.
For instance, it is important to check whether anyone in your house has any fur allergies. It is also good to gauge their willingness to have a pet walking around the house. Not everyone feels comfortable around pets and this is something to bear in mind.
If you are living in a rented property, you have to find out whether your landlord allows pets. Furthermore, if you live in buildings such as a condominium, you’ll have to check the building regulations when it comes to having pets.
Evaluating the pros and cons
After you’ve considered the above, it boils down to evaluating the pros and cons of getting a pet. Once again, we go back to the question of why you want a dog or cat in the first place.
Pets, especially dogs and cats, can ease loneliness and improve physical and mental health. A recent study published in the Scientific Reports journal found that dog owners face a lower cardiovascular health risk than those without pets.
As adorable as pets may be, owning a pet is not all sunshine and rainbows. Getting a pet also means accepting the common issues that pet owners face:
- Pets can be disruptive - they may scratch, lick, chew or destroy things
- Pets can be noisy and might wake you up at night
- Pets might have accidents in the house that need cleanup
- Pets may distract you while you are trying to focus, especially when we are working from home
If you’ve done your research and decided to take the leap to become a pet owner - congratulations! We’re excited for you to start your journey as a pet parent. We hope you’ll find life as a pet parent fulfilling.
If you’re thinking of getting a cat, check out this useful for first-time cat owners.
If you don’t feel ready to commit but still love pets, don’t fret! There are plenty of other opportunities to get involved with pets. You can volunteer at a pet shelter, sign up as a dog walker, or hang out with your friends’ furbabies.