Sep 03, 2020

What to Know Before Adopting a Pet

By Joyce Venezia Suss

If there was a silver lining in the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, it helped animal shelters. Many people who stayed home for months have adopted pets, and some shelters even had waiting lists.

The benefits of having a pet are numerous. Having a pet brings many health benefits, including lower blood pressure. Stroking or cuddling with a furry friend is so soothing, but even watching a fish swimming in a tank can lower stress levels.

Pets give many emotional benefits, including unconditional love from a furry friend, laughter from their antics, and comfort when they sense you are stressed or sad. Pets are especially valuable to people who live alone by providing constant companionship.

Walking a dog is great exercise and brings many opportunities to socialize with neighbors and other dog owners, even if the conversation is focused on the fur babies. Even some cat owners safely bring their feline friends outdoors using a harness and leash or a pet stroller.

Pets help keep you safe, and often deter criminal activity. A barking dog or hissing cat is often enough to keep a burglar away from your home. Pets have also saved lives by alerting their owners to fires or other dangerous situations.

Adopting a pet from a shelter is one of the kindest things you can do for an abandoned animal. Owners of animals rescued from shelters often say their pets are truly loyal and genuinely happy.

If you are considering adding a pet to your home, here are some important things to learn before you sign the adoption papers.

  1. Do some research about the pet you are considering. Learn details about the particular breed, its full-grown size, estimated cost of food and visits to the vet, nocturnal habits, and what the pet needs for exercise.
  2. Determine who will take primary care for the animal. Pets are a great way to teach children about responsibility and patience, especially if they must feed, groom, walk them – and clean up poop.
  3. Consider possible health interactions, both good and bad. Young children can become ill from handling reptiles such as a turtle, lizard or frog. Adults with compromised health issues may be more susceptible to certain pet-related diseases, and pregnant women should not clean cat litter boxes or reptile cages because of a possible parasite that can cause birth defects. However, some research shows that house pets can improve human immune systems because the pets spend more time outdoors. Some studies have shown that babies who live with a dog get fewer infections.
  4. Consider possible allergies from pet hair and dander, although there is also evidence that pet dander can help children from developing allergies.
  5. If you are a renter, make sure your pet will be allowed. Some rentals and condominiums may ban dogs and cats, but might allow a guinea pig, hamster, gerbil or small reptile.
  6. Make sure the animal’s life expectancy fits your future plans; some exotic birds may live even longer than you and may need to be included in your will. If your job requires frequent transfers, make sure the animal has the right personality to adapt to new places.