9 things to know before getting a pet

Living Well | Jessica Taylor Yates | Posted on 09 June 2021

Should you get a pet? Consider these factors before you bring an animal into your home long-term. 

Now that more of us are working from home, many people have thought about getting an animal companion to keep them company. And why not? According to the RSPCA, there are over 29 million pets in Australia alone, and it’s easy to see why. They’re loyal –  well, dogs are. Cats take over your home – loving, fun and give you something to care for. Pets have also been known to increase happiness, purpose, and general wellbeing. But having a pet animal is not the same as getting a pet rock. It takes time, commitment and responsibility, long term. So before getting a pet, we recommend asking yourself these 9 questions.

Puppy chewing on a shoe

Puppies are cute, but do you have the time and patience to care for one long-term? Photo: Getty. 


What to know before getting a pet – a checklist to consider

Why do you want a pet?

Pets can be loving and cute. But like a baby, they are also a lot of work. If the only reason you want a pet is to become their momager on Instagram or occasionally have something to cuddle up to on the couch, then perhaps you’re not ready for a fur baby.

You should also want to care for something other than yourself, to be able to give your time, love, and patience, and want to nurture a living thing for its whole life.

Is everyone in the house on board? 

If other people live with you, it’s worth having a household discussion before getting a pet. A pet is not a piece of furniture – they are a new member of the family. For example, if you live with roommates – are you expecting them to pitch in? If you have children, is your pet child-friendly? Is your partner allergic? Whilst a puppy in a box always appears as a cute ‘surprise!’ on tv shows and movies, in reality, this is the worst way to let other people know that there is now a living animal in their house that needs a lot of work and care.

Another thing to think about is your current pets, if you have them. Will they get along? If you have a dog, is it the kind that would like a playmate or get jealous? Make sure every person and animal is on board before introducing a new pet into your home.

Do you have the time and patience?

Like humans, pets don’t arrive perfectly packaged. They are an investment - a living, breathing, thing, and require your full love and attention. Some puppies may even require you to take time off work while they get used to their new surroundings.

This means you need to consider if you have the time, patience and ability for everything a pet needs. Things to consider before getting a pet include training or obedience school, daily walks, cleaning of their ‘business’ or dwellings, purchasing of food and supplies – the list goes on! It is also worth thinking about if you have the time and energy to invest in an animal that may have significant issues such as separation anxiety, behavioural problems, medical concerns or destructive behaviours.

Can you afford it?

Many pets will require you to fund their basic needs. From food to vaccinations, registration, leads, toys, huts, cages, tanks, grooming, beds and more, the fee you pay to get a pet is not a ‘one-off’.

Consider whether you have the funds to invest in a pet long term, particularly if their needs require constant maintenance and ongoing costs associated with their diet, grooming, shelter and medical needs.

Can you have a pet where you live?

It’s important to ascertain whether your place of residence allows pets. If you are renting, live in an apartment block or similar, ensure you have checked your tenancy agreement as to whether a pet is allowed in your home, and any associated costs with this (e.g. a deeper carpet clean at the end of lease). New tenancy laws in Victoria mean tenants must ask their landlord for permission to have a pet, but the landlord must have a good reason to refuse the request.

You also want to ensure that if you can have a pet, that your house is ready. For outdoor pets – do you have a yard for a dog to be able to run around in? Is your fence secure from break outs, or break ins from other animals? Does the pet you want suit your suburb (a rooster can be cute on a farm, but maybe not in the city). Also ensure that if needed, the inside of your home is habitable for the pet of your choosing.

Are you able to sustain the responsibility long-term?

Getting a pet is a long-term commitment. If you have plans to live in Switzerland for a year or downsize to a tiny home with no yard, have you thought about what you might do if you had a pet?

Additionally, just as babies get older, animal needs can change as they grow. Your puppy may become a much larger dog with greater food and medical needs as time goes on, so it is important to think about if you’re prepared to care for a pet for its whole life.

Dog cat rabbit and mouse

Pets come in all shapes and sizes. Photo: Getty. 


Do you have a vet?

If something were to go wrong, do you know of a local vet nearby, or animal hospital? 

It is also worth checking in with a local vet when you get your pet, so they can keep you updated on annual health checks, vaccinations, and grooming needs.

Have you got a plan of what to do if you need to go away?

There may be instances where you are away for business or leisure. If they can come with you, have you looked into the best way to travel with a pet? If this is the kind of pet that would need to stay put, have you thought about what you would do while you are gone?

Do you have a friend or family member who could help, or do you know of a pet boarding home or a carer who could come and help out?

Have you thought about the pet that is best for you?

Even though sheepdogs may be your favourite, if you live in an apartment and go away frequently for work, you may not have the time to give a dog the energy it requires. Or maybe you would like a dog but don’t have time for walks, so a cat is more up your alley.

It’s worth doing your research to ensure the pet you get is best accommodated to your lifestyle. Think about what will be best for you, the pet and all the things you should know so that you can both have a loving, happy life together.

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