Pretoria - Pets give us endless happiness and unconditional love. It is incredibly rewarding to own small companion animals, but to give them the best care and attention, we need to remember that owning a pet is a privilege, and not a necessity or right.
Many pets such as puppies and kittens are so cute that many people can’t resist bringing them home.
However, the realities of pet ownership soon set in when one realises the responsibilities involved in their care.
Time for a pet
One of these responsibilities is the time required for pets. As an owner, you need to have time for your dogs and cats.
This is especially the case for dogs.
They are not happy if left alone for long periods of time during the day especially.
If you can’t devote enough time to walk your dog daily, or play and interact with your cat, think about getting smaller pets instead such as rabbits or guinea pigs.
They are less demanding in the scheme of things.
Part of your research should be looking at the amount of time and maintenance required for each type of pet.
Be totally honest with yourself as to just how much time you can devote to a pet.
Dogs take up a lot of time and energy.
Yes, they are rewarding. But if you live alone, and work long hours every day, or spend a lot of time travelling, then perhaps a dog is not the best choice of pet for you.
It is important to also consider the type of breed of dog you choose. Some breeds are needier, and more demanding, than others.
If you choose a hunting-type breed, you need to make sure he gets a lot of daily exercise.
If you choose a smaller toy breed, they tend to be needier, but still need to be treated like dogs and walked daily to stimulate them.
It is likely you will need to make time to take them to the groomer every two to four weeks.
This is something which requires money and time, which must be considered before obtaining an animal.
Cost of owning a pet
Basic care of any pet includes food, shelter from the elements, and medical care.
It is wise to check what these costs are before deciding on getting a pet.
Grooming a pet, if it is a breed that needs regular grooming, like a Yorkshire Terrier or a Scottish Terrier (which do not do well in the South African summer with long coats) even once a month needs to be included in your pet care budget.
Pets can also have significant health costs if they get ill or injured. It’s not ideal to be in a position where you can’t afford the regular, and unexpected, veterinary costs for a pet.
It is so unfortunate and sad when pet owners must give up their animals just because they can’t afford the cost of pet care.
These innocent animals are often put to sleep as a result.
It is wise to invest in pet insurance which helps cover a portion of large vet bills for illnesses, as this takes the financial pressure off vet costs.
Doing this also gives you peace of mind knowing you can afford the best treatment for your pet should it become necessary.
A suitable environment for your pet
Different pets require different housing.
Although cats are much easier to keep happy in almost any type of
house or office, dogs have certain needs according to their size and breed.
Any dog you get should be suitable not only to your lifestyle, but also your surroundings.
If you live in an apartment, then a large dog is not a good choice.
A bored dog will destroy things, and even suffer health and emotional problems from a lack of stimulation.
Large dogs really belong in big places with lots of outdoor space available.
A smaller dog would be better off with access to a garden to use as a toilet, but if this is not possible they can be easily trained to use litter trays in a designated area inside a house or apartment.
If your house is along a busy road, it will not be wise to get a cat which cannot be confined to your property, as it will wander on the road.
Either you will need to make arrangements to confine it to your property with suitable fencing, or keep it as an indoor cat.
Indoor cats require a lot more of your time and stimulation, as they get bored more easily.
Remember, not all complexes or housing establishments allow pets, so make sure you check the regulations regarding pets before bringing one home.
There is also the noise factor to consider; you don’t want your dog to annoy your neighbours, who might get angry and threaten you or your pets.
Allergies and children
If you, or any of your family members, have allergies, certain animals will not be appropriate for your home.
Children, especially, can be allergic to dogs or cats or both.
Do your research to assess the suitability of specific animals and breeds for your family.
Training a pet
Another area you need to be realistic about is your own ability, and time required, to train a pet. Some pets (like dogs) require a lot of training.
Others (like for example cats) will not involve any training.
Many dogs have been abandoned because of ignorant owners who could not be bothered to properly train their dogs.
Dog experts claim there are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners who did not take the time to train and teach their dogs.
If you get a dog, make sure you get proper obedience training, which means education for both yourself as well as your dog.
Dogs like discipline and routine. And, without this, they can be like naughty children who, unfortunately, get disciplined unnecessarily by their angry owners.
Puppies require the most work when it comes to training.
If you don’t want your things chewed up, or don’t have the time or money to train a puppy, consider adopting an adult dog who is already housebroken.
Adopting rescue animals is particularly rewarding.
These animals go from having no love to being incredibly grateful for the little things in life.
This includes things like love, food, a warm bed, and shelter.
These dogs are usually already neutered which will save costs as well.
Pretoria News Weekend