When it comes to choosing the right pet and breed for you, it’s important to remember that your lifestyle and physical environment are at least as important as your personal preferences and finding a pet that matches your persona. Pet ownership should also make sense from a financial standpoint because it can be expensive, which means finding budget-conscious ways to care for your new friend will also be a factor. Here’s what you need to consider.
Cats and Dogs
Cats and dogs are different temperamentally. Dogs are more of a time investment than felines, requiring lots of attention especially if you intend to train one yourself. Formal obedience training can cost hundreds of dollars, often with mixed results. You can impart basic lessons, such as “speak” and “sit,” to your dog without spending a dime.
Bringing a cat home won’t cost you as much. A small plastic container can serve as a litter box, and cats can entertain themselves with simple household items, whereas a dog will usually require some chew toys to stay happy and burn off energy. Bringing a dog home means you’ll need a crate or cage, a leash and collar, and food/water bowls. Between food, supplies, and toys, there’s plenty to stock up on (buying in bulk and avoiding name brands will help you save on dog food). Ordering from Amazon is a convenient and efficient way to purchase what you need. You’ll find great savings with an Amazon promo code and avoid having to spend time running around looking for items that can be delivered right to your door.
If you’re in a small house or apartment, a German Shepherd or Irish Setter probably isn’t a wise choice. A big dog with a big tail may cause breakage and needs more in the way of food, supplies and veterinary attention, all of which can add up quickly. A lack of square footage or a yard large enough to accommodate a big, energetic dog probably means you’re headed for a cat or small-sized pooches such as a Dachshund or Terrier.
If you choose to buy a dog, spend some time shopping around for a veterinarian since they tend to vary considerably when it comes to fees. Opt for recycled toys, things like used footballs and old soccer balls, that your pooch can play with (the American Pet Products Association reports that the average dog owner spends $107 a year on pet toys). Grooming is another potentially costly factor, so it’s worthwhile to do the grooming yourself (cats are less costly to groom, costing their owners only about $20 a year).
As a pet owner, you’ll need to keep your house clean and address hair accumulation on the furniture and carpeting, especially if allergies are an issue. A handheld vacuum cleaner can do wonders, helping you reach into corners and tight spaces to mitigate the effects of pet dander. A quality air purifier, one that’s especially effective at controlling pet-related allergens, is an excellent investment if someone in your house is affected by pet hair. Some air purifiers are better than others for pet owners, so do some comparison shopping to find the right one.
Acclimating and Bonding
It’s important to spend time helping your pet acclimate to his new home. Let him explore; take him for a walk throughout the house and yard and let him do lots of sniffing. Giving your new pet plenty of attention is key to helping him feel comfortable, especially if you’ve brought home a rescue pet, who’s apt to be nervous. Spend some time down at his level, and be sure to leave any familiar items (toys, pillows, old towels, etc.) nearby. If your pet is a puppy or kitten, be aware that he’ll crave attention for a while as he grows. Look for old leftover stuffed toys your kids no longer want; they make good pet toys and will save you a few dollars.
Whether you choose a cat or dog, owning a pet is a big responsibility. It’s your job to keep your furry friend healthy and happy, which means providing love and attention is a big part of the deal. It’s also important to make sure this decision won’t put you in a financial bind, so keep your eyes open for opportunities to save a few bucks as often as possible.
By Jessica Brody, Guest Contributor
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