Guest blog by Jessica Brody from Our Best Friends
Worldwide, the United States ranks first in pet ownership of dogs, cats, and freshwater fish. Respectively, we have 69 million dogs, 74 million cats, and 57 million fish. Data from 2011 revealed that 62 percentof Americans have a pet. If you’re among those who aren’t pet owners but are thinking about becoming one, read on for some tips and advice.
Which Pet Is Right For You?
The first step is to determine the right pet for you based on factors like your environment and your energy level. If you’re in a house with a backyard (and a fence,) go ahead and get a Great Dane. If you’re in a sixth-floor walk-up, maybe a tabby is more your speed. If you like to run, get an active dog who can keep up. If you like to curl up with a good book, a cat may just be the perfect companion.
Preparing Your Home
Next, make sure your house is ready. That means pet-proofingit and getting food, supplies, and toys. Once your pet arrives, designate a room your new pal can call its own. Keeping your pet in one area, especially while you’re not home, can also be a great way to keep your pet safe and contain pet-related messes. While you’ll want to set rules, expect for those rules to be broken — and messes to be made. Make sure to lay down puppy pads, even for a trained pet, and brush up on the best waysto get pet stains and odors out of your carpet and rugs.
Adopting a rescue petcomes with its unique challenges because many rescue pets may be nervous or fearful of you at first. Since these animals are generally from chaotic households, set a schedule and stick to it. Walk and feed it at the same time every day. Give it space until it trustsyou enough to come to you. Make sure that everyone in your family knows how to behave with a rescue pet, and be sure to spend time bonding with it so that it feels welcome.
Bonding with Your Pet
On that note, carve out some time to deepen your bondwith your new pet. When you go on a vacation, take your dog with you. Or, when you and your family are playing Frisbee or dashing through sprinklers, let it outside to romp around. If it’s not a dog, just make sure you play, nap, and spend time with it. And regular nuzzles under the chin never hurt, either.
Rehabilitation and Recovery
Hanging out with a companion animal isn’t a medically prescribed approach to overcoming a medical condition or mental illness, but it has been shown to be beneficial. Some rehab facilities are even allowing patients to bring their pets with them. Being around your pets can help you relax, decrease your stress and get you outside exercising. Also, a companion animal provides just that – companionship – which is often in short supply for people in recovery.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet for the first time, take the plunge and do it. Preventing strokes, boosting your mood, helping you socialize, lowering your cholesterol – the list of how pets improve your life go on and on. Just do your research to make sure you’re preparing your new pet to thrive in your home.
Image via Unsplash