iStock_000016717969_SmallThe level of companionship and devotion you can get from a furry or feathered friend is unlike anything you can get elsewhere. Pet ownership can bring you years of rewarding experiences, but owning a pet is hard work, too. There are a lot of important responsibilities that you have to be willing to take on for the privilege of your pet’s love.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands the responsibilities of pet ownership before they jump in. It’s important that you know what owning a pet entails before you adopt. Here are a few key considerations…


Owning a pet is a commitment for the life of the animal. Far too many people jump into pet ownership, only to return the animal to the shelter or give it away when they realize that they can’t live up to the care their pet needs. Know that you will be taking care of a life, and that that life is depending on you for its survival and happiness.

Pets, for the most part, aren’t self-sufficient. You’ll need to feed them, bathe them, provide for their needs for affection and companionship, and take care of them when they are ill and dying. As wonderful and rewarding as pet ownership is, it’s not all fun and games. Pet ownership is a serious commitment.

Pet Ownership Basics

There are lots of things to consider before choosing a new pet, even if you aren’t new to being a pet parent.

You will need to be sure that you:

  • Know the breed of animal you’re taking on. Different breeds have different personalities and quirks, and you’ll want to make sure that you get a pet that will match your lifestyle
  • Obey all ordinances and laws regarding licensing, vaccinations, and restraint
  • Provide adequate space, food, and shelter for your pet
  • Provide proper sanitation so that your pet doesn’t become ill or spread disease

Besides these basics of responsible pet ownership, know that your pet needs affection and emotional health care. You need to spend time with your pet, snuggling, cuddling, petting, playing, and just generally being a friend. Remember that, just as with people, animal friendship goes two ways.

Veterinary Considerations

Pets require healthcare just like humans do. Before you decide if you should adopt, consider the cost of veterinary care, along with the regular expenses that you will have for food and play. You may even want to research wellness plans and pet insurance as a way to protect your pet’s wellness and defray the cost of routine veterinary care.

Likewise, choose your veterinarian carefully and build a relationship with him or her, and the practice. In conjunction with your vet, build a “to-do” list regarding your new friend’s health. What do you need to do to protect him or her from harm? What do you need to do to keep him or her healthy?

Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to get your pet vaccinated to avoid disease and illness
  • Make sure that you get your pet spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted breeding, which only contributes to the overpopulation problem in pets
  • Make sure your pet gets enough exercise. If it’s a dog, have room for him or her to run, or be prepared to go on daily walks. For cats, make sure he or she has enough toys to stay occupied, and burn off the energy that goes along with being a cat. Whatever species your pet may be, make sure he or she can get the exercise they need.
  • Put away money in case of emergencies. You never know when an emergency is going to occur, and you don’t want to make a decision about your pet’s life based on the balance in your checkbook.

Till Death Do You Part

It is your responsibility to raise your pet to be a good citizen and be there for whatever may happen throughout your pet’s entire life. And, when your pet gets old, that means being prepared to make difficult health decisions such as end of life care, and whether or not you will be with your faithful companion at the end.  Just because your pet’s health deteriorates, it does not mean you should drop off your faithful companion at a shelter to be someone else’s problem. A responsible pet owner is committed for life.

If you have any other questions regarding the responsibilities of pet ownership, please feel free to reach out to us. Our staff is happy to discuss your questions and concerns, and help you be the pet parent that your four-legged friend deserves.