Before Getting A Pet
You look through the glass and there it is, a whimpering ball of fluff looking at you with bright round eyes and a tail that wags so hard it is practically begging you to take it home.
So you cave, buy the puppy on a whim and bring it home…only to be swamped with endless rounds of cleaning its mess as it constantly barks for your attention and you realise you have to constantly feed, walk, groom and train this living creature for the next 15 years to come.
There are many social, emotional and health benefits to welcoming a pet into your family. Some people choose to keep a pet out of a desire for companionship, a need to nurture, or even out of compassion for animals. But choosing a pet based only on superficial factors, like because the animal looks cute, is not enough to make someone a good owner.
Owning a pet is a lifelong commitment and a heavy responsibility as the animal would be totally dependent on its owner for survival. The decision to own a pet must not be taken lightly.
Here are five key considerations before you bring one into your home.
(1) A Family Decision
All family members need to agree to getting a new addition to the household.
Is everyone at home agreeable to having a pet? All family members should agree to introducing a new addition to the household and understand the commitment this brings. More significantly, do the necessary research to pick the right pet for your family.
(2) Pet Education
Learn more about what you need to do to take care of your pet, before bringing one into the house.
Do you know enough about the pet to care for it properly? Different animals have different needs, be it socialisation, housing, food, veterinary care, exercise and grooming.
For example, cats like to climb, jump and run around, so a cat tower and cat wand can make them happy. Dogs, on the other hand, love to go out for walks while small mammals like chinchillas, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters, need space and exercise toys such as an exercise ball, a cage wheel and a climbing tunnel.
It is important to feed the right types of food, as well as providing adequate rest and exercise, to your pet. A lack of, or excess of, any of these may lead to undesirable consequences such as illness, stress and unhappiness in the animal. Read up about these expectations or speak to someone who may have the experience to share with you.
(3) Training Day
Obedience training helps build a good relationship between the owner and pet.
Does your pet need socialising and training? Obedience training helps build the relationship between owners and their pet. It also teaches the pet socially acceptable behaviour, at home and in public.
Owners also get to bond with their pet during the course of training. A well-socialised and trained pet is a well-adjusted and happy one, and is less likely to be disruptive at home or a nuisance while outside.
(4) Happily Ever After…
A pet is a lifetime commitment. Some cats cat live up to 18 years!
Are you willing to keep your pet for life, regardless of the changes in your life? Whether you plan to move house, start a family or even to move another country for job opportunities, you should be committed to providing a loving and caring home for your pet for its whole life.
Here is a list of the expected lifespan of some common pets:
- Birds: 5 to 70 years
- Cats: Up to 18 years
- Chinchillas: 15 years
- Dogs: Up to 18 years
- Fish: Variable
- Gerbils: 3 to 4 years
- Guinea pigs: 6 to 8 years
- Hamsters: 2 to 3 years
- Mice: 2 years
- Rabbits: 8 to 10 years
- Terrapins: More than 20 years
(5) Dollars and Sense
Pets can get sick or grow old. Factor in vet visits as part of the costs of keeping a pet.
Do you have the resources to keep a pet? You need to be emotionally and financially committed to provide what is needed to ensure your pet is loved, healthy and happy.
Here is the estimated cost of pet ownership, using dogs/cats as an example:
Lifespan: Up to 18 years
|Adoption fee||About $200|
|Purchased for pet shop||About $800|
|Licensing fees||$15 to $90/year|
|Obedience training||$600 for ten lessons|
|Sterilisation||$100 to $400 one time|
|Vaccination||$45 per shot|
|Pet food||$50 to $300/month|
|Toys and accessories||About $100/year|
|Grooming||$80 to $150|
|Vet visit||About $75 to $400/each visit (depending on the complexity)|
|Pet cremation||$150 to $800|
|Estimated first year cost (minimum)
Ill-considered pet purchase is the leading reason for pet abandonment and negligence. Often, when the excitement of getting a pet wears off, many people find themselves unprepared for the reality of constantly cleaning up after their pet and having to spend time and money on food, play, grooming, and visits to the veterinarian.
As a responsible and considerate pet owner, there are also various laws that pet owners have to take note of, such as keeping pet dogs leashed at all times in public areas. Leashing pet dogs in public spaces enables pet owners to have better control, and prevents them from getting lost or from disturbing others unintentionally. There is also a Code of Animal Welfare for pet owners that specifies the minimum standards for animal housing, management, and care which pet owners are expected to comply with.
Animals have feelings too. Pets can show affection to their owners, but can also feel pain and sadness. If you are unable to provide for your pet adequately, it is better not to get one at this point in time.
Why Not Adopt?
Once you have decided you are ready, you can choose between adopting from an Animal Welfare Group (AWG) or buying from pet shops. Adopting from AWGs can help support the work of these organisations that help keep strays off the streets. While the animal’s previous owner might have given it up due to reasons such as old age or health reasons, adoption gives the animal a second chance to find a loving new home.
Pets are for life, not just “until”. “Until you get bored with it”. “Until you have to move”. “Until you have a baby”. For more information on pet ownership, click here.
Day Out with your Pets
You are invited to the next edition of Pets’ Day Out, a new initiative by NParks. This pets-centric event happens at a park and everyone’s invited!
Here are the details for the upcoming Pets’ Day Out:
Date: 26 and 27 October 2019
Venue: Esplanade Park
There is a pet adoption drive if you are considering an animal for the family. Besides educational activities such as talks on pet care and training, you can also shop for your pets at the event. What’s more, you can have your furry friends checked and/or micro-chipped* by our AVS veterinarians.
*Prior registration is required for the free pet health check and micro-chipping sessions. Please register via www.bit.ly/avsfphcpdo. Hurry before slots run out!
Check out five pet-friendly places in our parks and green spaces you can visit with your animal companion, here.
Text compiled by Felix Siew
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