Updated: Nov 2, 2021
The last time you were visiting friends or family, did you spend more time playing with the cat or dog than talking to the other humans? Don’t be ashamed if you did, as it happens to all animal lovers, but it may be a sign that there’s something missing from your life. It’s potentially time to find your own pet, and though there are responsibilities in taking care of an animal, the good times will outweigh the bad if you get the right one. Here are a few things to mull over.
Dogs and cats have their own personalities that are determined to a degree by breed. So before you settle on the cutest, think about whether their habits match your lifestyle as some animals need more activity than others. If you need a canine companion that keeps up on your morning run, then avoid lazy bones like English bulldogs and chow chows. As for cat lovers, do you really want a cat that constantly jumps into your lap while you read?
Do you have any health conditions that might make it unwise to get one breed or another? The first thing you should think about is allergies. You may be allergic to cats or dogs, even if they’ve never made you sniffle and sneeze before, so get checked. Also, if you suffer from asthma, the experts at Petful recommend dogs that shed less fur such as Yorkshire terriers and poodles.
Dogs and cats make great therapy animals for those suffering from mental illnesses such as addiction as their affectionate nature provides much-needed relief from stress and anxiety. But some breeds are better than others, so look for breeds that are patient and gentle like Labrador retrievers and French bulldogs.
If you live in an apartment, you may think that a cat is the only option, which isn’t the case. There are plenty of dog breeds that thrive in small spaces, and some of them are quite large, like the Mastiff. Plenty of pint-sized pups would fit in as well such as dachshunds and Chihuahuas. As for cats, while they don’t need a lot of room inside, some may need easy access to the great outdoors, like Burmese cats.
A Good Home
Take a look around, and you’ll find things that a puppy could easily chew to oblivion including cords, cables and shoes. Those should be put out of your pet’s reach along with any poisonous chemicals and cleaning products. If a cat’s about to move in, make sure you’ve taken down those decorative plates, portraits and potentially poisonous plants from the top of shelves before they come tumbling down. Your feline friend will find his way up there.
If you have a lawn, consider installing a fence to prevent your pup from escaping or wandering into your neighbours' yards. You can easily find a fencing company nearby by researching local installers and reading customer reviews on sites like Angi. The cost of installing fencing will be determined by its size and the materials used.
The Right Gear
There’s something you can buy to satisfy your cat’s passion for high perches: a cat tree. If you decide to get a dog, you will need a leash along with a collar and ID tag. You may also want to consider a doggy bed that you can place in a spare room or quiet corner of the house that your four-legged friend can keep to himself.
Before you lay out the welcome mat, there’s a few things you should know. Dogs don’t necessarily take kindly to new places, especially if they’re rescues. Living in streets and shelters leads to feelings of fear and anxiety that can only be overcome with patience. Give your pup their space and slowly introduce them to family members, who can usually win their trust by feeding them treats.
It won’t take long before your pet gets used to their new home, and then you can begin establishing the long-term bonds that make them a member of the family. This involves returning your dog’s affection with petting and cuddling, but also some routines like evening walks and regular games of fetch.
Lastly, consider the benefits of spaying and neutering your companion animals to prevent further populating already full rescue centres, and always adopt where possible to rehome your next bundle of love.
By Sheila Olson,
Cover and insert images by Sophie L Robinson of her rescue cats Luna and Tia; and Freya, respectively