Becoming a pet owner must’ve been one of your biggest goals growing up, but if your parents weren’t sold on the idea of having a dog, cat, or other pet in the house, you may not have been able to fulfill that dream until now. The present time may be a much better one for keeping a pet, now that you’re more independent, have your own place, and have both the financial resources and emotional maturity to take the lead when raising an animal.
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Nevertheless, as someone who may not have grown up with a pet, there are a few things that will be very new to you compared to people you know who kept animals as kids. Your pet won’t be the only one who has to have their metaphorical training wheels on when it comes to getting used to this new life. Knowing that, here’s how you should prepare to be a first-time pet owner in your adulthood:
1) Raise a Pet Who Fits Your Lifestyle
If you didn’t grow up with pets, you may not have as clear an idea of how they fit into a human’s lifestyle—especially in terms of just how much care and attention they need. Without this kind of experience, there’s a chance that you won’t think your choice of pet through.
Thus, your first action as a pet owner should be to consider your living situation, work schedule, and other personal preferences when making the decision to welcome a pet into your home. If you’re always busy and live in a small apartment, a cat, hamster, turtles, or some fish might be good fits since they can be left alone for a large part of the day. But if you’re the type to spend a lot of time at home and crave the companionship of a pet who can join you for physical activities, then it would make sense to consider getting a dog.
2) Pet-Proof and Stock Your Home with Pet Essentials for the First Time
People who’ve only acquired pets in their adulthood may also not have as intuitive an understanding of how to pet-proof their homes and how regularly to stock up on pet supplies, like dog food and dog stainless steel bowls. Before you welcome your pet into your home, read up and ask for help on a matter that’s like second nature to people who’ve always owned pets.
First, go through your living space and identify and remove potential hazards to your pet. This includes toxic plants, chemicals, or small objects that they could accidentally ingest. Next, provide your pet with their own space where they can settle in more easily and rest. For dogs, it could be a corner in your home where they have their own bed or blanket. For cats, it can be their own cat tree. Hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, or chinchillas will need a big enough cage or enclosure that will allow them to freely move around.
Also stock up on essentials that are needed for your pet’s daily life, like food, beddings, litter, and pet-safe toys for them to amuse themselves with. It’s good practice to draft a budget for these things regularly so that you can save money and avoid being frazzled about running out of stock.
3) Find Out about How to Fulfill Their Nutritional Needs
As an adult pet owner, you’ll want to pay attention to your pet’s health and nutrition just as carefully as you would if you were raising a child. A nutritious diet will curb health issues and increase your pet’s chances of living a long and happy life.
To ensure that you’re feeding your pet the right food, consult your veterinarian. It also helps to do your own research and to ask for advice from more seasoned pet owners. Also make it a point to observe discipline during feeding, both for you and your pet; if this will be your first time dealing with behavior like begging at the dining table for human food, slowly and firmly learn how to resist your pet’s adorable puppy or kitty eyes.
4) Ensure Proper Grooming and Hygiene
Another thing you’ll need to slot into your pet care routine is proper grooming and hygiene. Regular nail trims for a dog or cat, for example, will prevent discomfort or injury from overgrown nails. You should also learn how to properly bathe or brush a furry animal to keep their coat clean and healthy.
Your exact grooming and hygiene routines will depend on the type of pet you have. Dogs typically need to be bathed every one to three months to minimize their natural odor and oil buildup on their skin. This schedule, in turn, may change based on your dog’s activity level, coat type, and skin condition.
Cats typically don’t need to be bathed since they’re known to groom themselves extensively. But if your cat is having difficulty grooming themselves due to health issues or old age, you can be the one to bathe them once in a while.
5) Bring Them to the Vet for Regular Check-Ups
Lastly, keep in mind that you shouldn’t only bring your pet to the veterinarian if they’re obviously sick. For animals that need a lot of hands-on care, schedule vet visits at more regular intervals. This is the best way to identify and prevent health problems before they become serious and irreversible.
Animals like dogs, cats, and bunnies should also go to the vet for their vaccinations, parasite control medication, and dental care. Take the time to ask your vet for advice on how to properly take care of and handle advanced health issues for your pet at home.
Even if it’s quite exciting to finally welcome a pet into your household, it can also be quite scary if you have zero experience. But pet ownership isn’t a race, and even pet owners who waited until adulthood to keep their first pets can grow into loving, responsible, and trustworthy pet parents after some time. Don’t be afraid of the responsibilities that await you, and use the tips listed above to comfortably transition into the joyous experience of life with a pet.
This is a contributed post.
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