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Pets are a big part of the family. The commitment of adding a furry friend can be an overwhelming decision. Whether you are single or have a household full of children, the undertaking of a pet can be ambitious. There are a number of things to consider before you make the final decision. Here are the questions you should consider.

1. Children and Comfort Levels

Having a pet can seem like a good idea, until your child demonstrates anxiousness or discomfort around an animal. Just because your child is excited to see a dog in the park or willing to pet your neighbor’s cat, doesn’t necessarily mean your child is ready for a pet. Consider visiting an animal shelter or pet sitting a friend and/or family members’ pet for long durations. Try it more than once. Observe the way your child interacts with the animal – sometimes an older animal’s comfort and chill levels can provide a deceiving reaction of how your child will react to a puppy.

2. Children and Respect

Does your child demonstrate and understand how to respect animals? Oftentimes, young children don’t quite understand animals, and they can tug on their ears or bump roughly into animals. It is important to teach respectful etiquette to your children and help them develop self-control when they are left alone with the animal. This is very important because a child’s roughness can cause the animal to react negatively to an innocent gesture by the child.

3. Household and Commitment

Taking on a pet is a huge responsibility and everyone in the house must be on board – otherwise one person will be stuck with all the grunt work and could end up resenting the animal. If you have a roommate, schedule a meeting and chat about the animal and bring up any concerns you might have. Concerns could be belongings being left around the living space, bathroom schedules for the pet (you may need assistance depending on your schedule), crate options, and/or the comfort level your new pet will have with other pets at the residence.

4. Space

Assess your living space and determine whether or not you can have a pet. Measure and make sure there is space for an animal to have a bed and/or toys (playing area). If you are renting, refer to your lease and determine whether or not animals are allowed – and if you need to draft up a lease amendment or a deposit.

5. Time Commitment

Do you travel a lot? Do you have time to dedicate to your new pet? Does your schedule allow for proper accommodations a pet will need? It’s easy to fall in love with the idea that you are ready for a pet, but it is important to have a level head and be rational. If your travel schedule is busy, then you may need to wait until you are able to better organize your time. If you do not have the time to train and bond with your pet, then you should table the pet conversation and come back to it when you have the time to commit. Your pet should be a priority.

6. Assess Allergies

Allergies can be problematic – especially if you are thinking about getting a pet. If you or members of your family have a sensitivity to dander, then it’s worth checking in with your family doctor. You wouldn’t want to commit to a pet and later find out, the animal is making someone in the household sick. There are several allergy tests that doctors can perform. If someone, in your home, has asthma or other breathing conditions, you should definitely detour from having animals who shed high amounts of hair (and dander). The dander can trigger breathing conditions.

7. Pet Type

Do you know what type of pet everyone wants? Assess the consensus and make sure no one is completely against having a specific animal. In terms of time investment, birds require the most time, followed by dogs, and then cats. Make sure everyone is on board for the pet you are thinking of adding to the family.

8. Financial Commitment

Pets can be expensive. Between food, grooming costs and vet care, the costs can add up relatively quickly. Assess your finances and make sure that you can afford the food purchases. Prior to adding a pet, save up enough money for potential emergency vet fees. While there are a lot of pet insurance policies available, in many instances the insurance only covers a portion of the bill – and in some cases, it doesn’t cover anything at all.

9. Communicate

Have a family meeting. If you are single, have a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting. Even though you or others, in the household, may have expressed an interest in a pet, make sure everyone is still on board. Remind children that the pet will grow up and not stay small forever. Remind yourself that someone else (the pet) will need your devoted time and they will also have expectations for you.

Ultimately, it’s good to double check with everyone and make sure that they are on the same page.

Pets provide companionship and a number of other emotional perks. If you and your household want a pet, assess all of the important points we covered together. It’s always better to make sure you fully understand and consider everything before adding to your family – no matter how big or small.