So, you’re thinking of getting a pet! For many people, their pet is an important part of the family. Owning a pet can be very rewarding, but it’s also important to remember that it’s a huge responsibility. If you own a pet, you’ll need to provide for all their requirements from food, grooming, and exercise to housing and veterinary care for many years - on average around 15 years for a dog or cat.

It’s crucial that you thoroughly research the basics of pet care before you consider buying one, so as to ensure that you can meet the needs of the animal. If you live with others, you’re probably going to need to convince them that getting a pet is the right choice. A lot of the time they’ll come up with excuses about why you shouldn’t be buying a pet right now. Don’t worry, we’ve got all those covered, too.

Think of this as the only page you’ll need to convince someone to get a pet. Just make sure you’re fully capable of caring for and looking after a pet before you begin your convincing, and that you are prepared to be in it for the long haul! So let’s get started.

Benefits of Pet
Ownership

Owning a pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, or lizard, can actually provide a variety of different
benefits for all, young and old. And these benefits span more than just the ‘extra company,
new friend, cute thing to look at’ realm. Here are ten ways that having a pet can benefit
you and your family.

1. They improve your health

As a pet owner you’ll have fewer ailments such as colds, headaches, and hay fever. You can even reduce your risk of developing certain allergies, such as pet and dust mite allergies or ragweed and grass allergies.

This is because pets usually carry germs that we also end up being exposed to. With this exposure, our body ends up building an immunity to the germs, making us less sick, and in turn more healthy! Owning a pet can also improve heart health.

2. They make you happy

Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, as taking care of a pet requires routine and makes you active, in turn making it more difficult to focus on feeling down. Interacting with and receiving love from a pet can also help you stay positive.

Even just looking at your pet increases oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain. If your pet does something cute that also makes you smile, it will raise your serotonin and dopamine levels that are associated with calmness and happiness. Read real life examples of this happening here and here. And remember, you have to make sure that your pet is happy if you’re wanting that happiness to rub off on yourself.

3. They help children learn responsibility

A pet can help your children learn to be responsible by forcing them to learn how to look after a living being that depends upon them.

Feeding, cleaning, grooming, and training a pet are just a few of the requirements of looking after an animal, and taking over these big tasks can help your children become more responsible and nurturing people. Here are more ways that children can benefit from a friendly, caring relationship with a pet.

4. They help children to develop, improve, and gain new skills

The presence of an animal in the home can help foster a child’s emotional, cognitive, social, and physical development by increasing their attention span, stimulating their imagination and curiosity, and teaching them perseverance. When kids read to an animal they are more relaxed, which can help them improve their reading skills over time. Emotionally, kids learn to express themselves in more ways when living with a pet, and also learn to relate to others better. Feeding and exercising a pet also helps children to develop an understanding of daily care and gain parenting skills.

5. They help you become a better person

Children, and even adults, who own pets are often less self-centred than those who don’t. A pet’s love and companionship can help a person to develop a positive self-image.

Those who are emotionally attached to their pet are better able to build relationships with other people. What’s more, a pet can make people - especially children - less hyperactive or aggressive.

7. They get you to exercise

If you own a dog, you’ll have to take them out for daily walks or games, forcing you to exercise as well. It’s a win-win!

Exercising has many benefits; it lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, boosts your self-esteem, and keeps you in better overall shape than those who own cats or have no pet at all. Here are some ideas for exercising your pet that can also get your own muscles pumping! Have fun and stay motivated with your new exercise partner.

8. They build family bonds

Having a pet can help families grow stronger and closer. A new pet eventually becomes an important part of the family, and is often the focus of activities that families do together.

Everyone can walk the dog, share in grooming and feeding it, or play with it. Families can even sit together and just watch their pet play by itself.

9. They lessen feelings of loneliness

A pet’s unconditional love and companionship can help ease feelings of loneliness. At the end of a difficult day, they’re often the best listeners, and the look on their faces when you return home will remind you that there’s always at least someone excited to see you.

Pets are often intuitive and will seek you out when you’re feeling down, not allowing you to remain alone. A pet can also fulfil your social needs in much the same way as other people can.

10. They reduce stress

Simply stroking a pet or watching a fish swim in its tank can help you to relax. When you interact with your pet, oxytocin is released. The hormone, which is related to stress and anxiety relief, can reduce your blood pressure and cortisol levels.

The mere presence of a pet can also reduce your heart rate. If you bring your pet to work, you’ll have lower stress levels throughout the day as you take more breaks to play with them or walk, which can in turn make you more energised when you do get back to work!

When others
say no…

Despite all these incredible benefits that owning a pet can offer, it can still be hard to convince others that you should get a pet… So before those objections start coming in, you need to learn how to respond to them. Just make sure your responses are honest and true, and you’re not just saying anything for the purpose of persuasion.

1. “Why do you want a pet?”

Some people simply don’t want a pet and have no idea why others do. You’ll need to be able to give a good reason to convince them to get a pet, and assure them that it’s not just a passing whim.

Answer:

You can say that you find animals interesting, you want a practical experience, companionship and that you have done your research and feel confident you can take care of a pet properly, and for the long term.

If you want a cat, you could say that cats are easier to care for than dogs, are generally smaller, and smell less than dogs.

You could also mention how many homeless animals are out there that need rescuing.

Lastly, remind them of the benefits that a pet can provide for you and your family.

2. “Do you know how to look after it? Who will take care of it when you go away?”

Another reason that people say no to getting a pet is because they don’t know how to care for one and don’t think that you can, either. It may also be that they know you won’t have the time or capacity to care for it all the time, and they don’t want to share in the responsibility.

Answer:

Whether you want to get a dog, cat, lizard, or bird, research everything you can about them, particularly on the specific breed or species you plan on getting. Relay what you learned to those you’re trying to convince. You can research online, read books, or ask others for advice. Check out our page on the best dog breed for you.

You can also take care of a friend’s pet for a while to show that you know how to look after one. If you’re going on holiday or away to study, you can ask a trusted friend, neighbour, or other family member (who likes pets) to take care of your pet for you. You can also find boarding houses or ask your local pet shop if they offer boarding.

You can give examples of how you will take personal responsibility for looking after this pet to demonstrate your commitment.

3. “It costs a lot of money”

You have to buy your pet food, a place to sleep, cleaning, equipment, toys, and so on. What’s more, if they get sick then you need to pay the vet bill, which can be rather expensive. There are also regular checkups and vaccinations, and if you get a young dog then you’ll need to spray or neuter them, which can also be costly.

Answer:

Find all the costs involved in buying and taking care of a pet, and then list and compare prices. Prepare a budget of annual costs - dont forget to include vet check ups and make allowance for the unexpected visit to the vet for an accident or illness. Vet fees can certainly add up and you should be prepared for that.

You can check classified ads online for cheap second-hand equipment, or you can get free hand-me-downs from generous friends. You could get a part-time job to cover the costs. If you’re still young, save your allowance or ask for the pet as a present! But it’s important to demonstrate that you fully understand that owning a pet doesn’t come for free!

4. “There’s no room for a pet”

If you live in a small house or apartment, getting a big animal isn’t a good idea. Or maybe there really is no space for a pet, even if you have a big house.

Answer:

Get a small animal that you can keep in a corner of the house or in your room. You could rearrange your room or furniture in the house (with others’ permission of course!) to make space for a pet.

You can also get a pet that can be kept outdoors if there really is no space left. There are cats and dogs that are quite comfortable in apartments and smaller spaces, but you also need to be aware of their exercise needs. So again - research, research, research!!

5. “It comes with big responsibilities”

You’ll need to be able to find the time to feed and wash your pet regularly, as well as clean up their mess or bring them to the vet if they’re sick. Depending on what animal you get, you may also have to train or housebreak them, look after them at night, or take them out for walks.

Answer:

Develop a weekly schedule that includes when to feed, wash, clean, train, and walk your pet. You could feed your pet before and after school, and get your parents or other family member to help during the times you’re unavailable.

Remember that cats, dogs, and even birds can live for over 10 years, so be sure that you’re committed to taking care of them for that long.

6. “Dogs and cats from pet shops largely come from puppy mills”

Puppy mills don’t have very good living and nurturing conditions for the animals they house, and therefore need to be stamped out.

Answer:

You could still buy a pet from a pet shop if you’re 100% certain they’re not from a puppy mill. However it’s even better to adopt a rescue pet from a local shelter/rescue organisation, or to get a pet from a licensed, reputable breeder. As they’ve been taken care of properly, the rescuer or breeder can tell you if the pet will be a good match for you, and at the same time you won’t be supporting a cruel and inhumane organisation. Also, animals that are left unsold in pet shops will usually be sent to a shelter where they can then be adopted, this way puppy mills don’t earn any profit.

If you have never owned a pet, then it could be a good idea to foster from a rescue organisation. This will give you a good idea of what is entailed in taking care of a cat or dog. Not only that, but you will also be helping a pet who is looking for a forever home, and you’ll be proving that you’re a great pet parent!

Are you prepared to
own a pet?

Before you decide to get a pet, here’s how you can ensure that you’re truly ready and responsible enough to own one. Check out our checklist to see if you pass the responsible owner’s test.

You’re prepared to care for a pet the rest of its life

Cats and dogs can live for an average of 12 to 15 years, with some living until they are 15 or 20 years old. Birds and rabbits can live for around 10 years or longer. So owning a pet is a long-term commitment, and if you’re fully committed to taking care of a pet into the future like you would with a child, then you know you’re ready to own one.

You can afford a pet

If you have a job, that’s great. If you’re young, use your savings allowance and help around the house to earn more money. This way you can pay for some or all of the costs of buying and caring for a pet. This includes upfront costs such as vaccinations, microchipping, and desexing; ongoing costs like food, grooming, yearly health checks, worming, vet bills, toys, and bedding; and emergency costs such as emergency vet treatments. Some pets are cheaper to own than others, so do your research before you begin.

You know how to care for a pet

It’s your responsibility to thoroughly research the basic requirements of your chosen pet. You can look up information online or read a comprehensive book about your chosen species or breed. If you want to adopt a pet, ask information from the relevant adoption organisation, and if you want to buy from a breeder, ask them for information such as how much space you should prepare and how often the pet should exercise.

You have the time to look after a pet

You should have ample time every single day to take care of a pet, especially puppies and kittens or any other baby animal. You need time for feeding, cleaning, grooming, exercising, socialisation, training, playing, and providing company and attention. You could also ask someone to help out when you’re not at home. Just make sure the pet is able to be looked after for most of the day. Most pets love and need company!

You live in suitable accommodation with space for a pet

If you want to get a big animal, your home and garden should be big enough to accommodate for their size. If you live in an apartment, ask your landlord first if pets are allowed, and if so, it may still be best to go for a smaller animal that won’t feel restricted. If you plan on getting a dog then you’ll need a secure backyard, but if you don’t have one, make sure that you can keep your dog indoors with no trouble.

A pet will fit into your lifestyle and priorities in the long run

Before your buy a pet, you must make sure you can still care for it even if your life gets thrown out of whack and you’re working longer hours, your social life is flourishing, or you’re suddenly taking regular trips away from home. Companion animals love human company and will depend on your being around all the time, so make sure that your lifestyle is able to accommodate them. You should also choose a pet that you’re able to live with and can live with you and your family.

You’ve researched service providers

This includes licensed, qualified, and reputable veterinarians (e.g. emergency hospitals, holistic vets, regular vets), training instructors, groomers, pet sitters/walkers, pet day care providers, and pet boarding providers.

You’ve set house rules and routines

If you live with others, you’ll need to discuss where your pet will be sleeping, whether it’ll be allowed on furniture, where it will hang out during the day, who will be feeding it and when, who will train it and how, and how it will be corrected when making mistakes.

You know your legal obligations

This includes taking care of any damage or problems that your pet may cause, making sure that your pet doesn’t hurt anyone or disturb those who live around you. This also includes keeping public walkways clean!

You know your health obligations

This includes keeping your pet healthy and safe, so you’ll need to provide suitable food, water, safe shelter, preventative treatments against parasites and infections diseases, and any other essential veterinary care. You should also keep your pet healthy for the sake of your children, family, and anyone else who may come into contact with your pet.

How to Prepare for
Bringing Home a Pet

You need to research the species or breed/crossbreed you plan to buy well before you bring it home, so you know for certain that it’ll be appropriate for your lifestyle and that you’re well prepared for its arrival. Make sure everyone else in the house is also prepared, with a good understanding of the species or breed and their requirements. For newborn puppies, we have a guide with tips on caring for them appropriately. If it’s an older dog you’re bringing home, check out our guide on adopting an older dog.

Here’s how to prepare a great home for your pet before it arrives.

Keep poisonous items out of reach

Household cleaners, human medications, insecticides, fertilisers, and insect and rat poisons should be kept in cabinets or placed on high shelves. Also place foods and drinks that aren’t healthy for your pet’s tummy out of reach.

Check your plants

Some plants can be harmful or even fatal to your pet when ingested, so be sure to check any plants you own and move them if they are dangerous. Ask your vet or look online which plants may be harmful to your pet.

Get rid of dangerous items

This includes things that your pet may chew on or swallow, such as dangling electric cords, loose nails, plastic bags, toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels. Keep pens and pencils in drawers. You should unplug, remove, or cover electrical cords in your pet’s confinement area. It’s also a good idea to tape wires to baseboards and cover electrical outlets when they’re not in use.

Keep the toilet lid down

Toilet cleaner residues in the toilet bowl water could harm your pet if they decided to stick their head inside and swallow a bit. After all, they’re just after water!

Beware of long drops

Keep your pet away from balconies, upper levels, and high decks where they could end up slipping through openings and fall.

Store away sharp items

Make sure to keep buttons, strings, sewing needles, and pins out of reach of your pet.

Prepare the supplies and equipment

If you’re getting a dog, prepare:

  • The bed, kennel, or crate,
  • Exercise pen or baby gates,
  • Litter and litter box,
  • Chew or play toys,
  • Grooming and cleaning tools,
  • Tether for training,
  • Collar,
  • ID tag,
  • Leash,
  • Harness,
  • Food,
  • Treats, and
  • Water bowl.

If you’re getting a cat, prepare the above but also a scratching post and cat toys. As for birds, ensure you have a cage and sufficient coverings for the inside of the cage, while fish will need an aquarium and the appropriate tools to create the ideal environment for them to live.

Give your pet its own room

Choose a low-traffic area as this will allow your pet to feel safe and comfortable in its new surroundings.

How Pets Have
Changed People’s Lives

You can also convince someone to get a pet by sharing stories of how pets have changed people’s lives for the better. We’ve already heard the story of how a dog helped one lucky gentleman meet his soulmate. Here are some other examples you can share:

Story 1: How our adopted dog changed our lives

Michele Winter Johnson and her husband, Bill, adopted Max (a Labrador Retriever mix) from an animal shelter when he was just 12 weeks old. Bill served in Vietnam and has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and one of the symptoms of the disorder is increased irritability.

He previously owned a Golden Retriever that had positive effects on his PTSD, so he and Michele got Max. Max’s playful personality and activeness helped Bill continue to deal with his psychological issues, and also helped open the lines of communication between Michele and Bill, improving their relationship.

Read the full story here.

Story 2: How getting a dog changed my life

In 2012, Helena and Andrew bought Toby Wigglebottom from a breeder. Helena never wanted a dog, but when she finally agreed and Toby came into her life, he changed her for the better.

Helena felt more connected to her community; she began to exercise with Toby, spent money on Doggy Day Care for the first time, savoured memories more intensely, discovered new hobbies (making and selling dog neckerchiefs and blogging), and she became a happier, more confident, and more content version of herself.

Read the full story here.

Story 3: The cat who changed my life

Ingrid King adopted Buckley, a small Tortoiseshell cat, from an animal hospital and welcomed her home on October 9, 2006. Ingrid had another cat named Amber as well. She was opposed to change and preferred a quiet, peaceful home, so it wasn’t easy now living with two cats, particularly with Buckley being so energetic.

However, Buckley’s exuberant energy and big heart eventually made Ingrid open herself to change. She learnt to love both cats equally, embrace change, and believe it can make things better, as well as accept that change is an inevitable part of life.

Read the full story here.

Ready to bring home your pet? Remember to take out pet insurance so that you have the confidence of knowing that you will always be able to care for your pet when it needs it most.

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