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Pets are good for us! They help us feel loved, needed and accepted. Also, recent studies show that pets may help:

  • Relieve loneliness

  • Reduce tension

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Calm and cheer us

We return the favor by caring for them responsibly and lovingly.

There is a lot more to it than just "falling in love" with the perfect pet. Before you get a pet you need to learn what is involved in pet ownership. You will also need to answer some important questions:

  • Why do you want a pet?

  • Are you ready for the lifetime commitment a pet requires?

  • What can you offer a pet?

  • Do you know the traits and needs of various types of pets?

  • What sort of pet should you get?

  • What can YOU offer a pet?

TIME: Pets need attention and affection, just like people. Daily care including feedings, grooming and exercising takes time too.

SPACE: How much room do you have? If you live in an apartment, for example, you may want to a different sort of pet than if you live in a house with a yard.

RESTRICTIONS: For example, if you rent are there any rules regarding pets? Are you familiar with community laws concerning animals?

COST: Early expenses include a first-time checkup, shots (immunizations) and spaying or neutering. Other routine costs include food, grooming supplies and veterinary care.

YOUR PATIENCE: Most pets need training, especially at first. If you get a young animal, consistent daily training is a must.

HEALTH: For example, is anyone in your family allergic to animals? Will you be able to give your pet the exercise it needs?

Other important issues to consider:

AGE: Baby animals are cute but need careful training. Older animals may be more reliable, a better match for elderly or small children.

BREED: Learn about the general characteristics of different breeds. Also consider how much exercise, space and grooming each breed requires.

SEX: There are pros and cons for pets of both sexes. For example, males tend to roam and may be slightly larger. If you have questions, call a veterinarian or animal shelter.

SPAYING OR NEUTERING: This surgical procedure prevents pregnancy by removing the animal's reproductive organs. Spaying or neutering is the responsible choice (there are millions of unwanted pets in the world). This surgery can help your pet live a happier, healthier life.

DO A FINAL CHECK: To make sure you have considered everything, ask yourself:

  • Do I know what type of pet you want?

  • Do I have enough time for that type of pet?

  • Can I afford veterinary care, food & grooming costs?

  • Do I know what I'll do with my pet when I take a vacation?

  • Am I willing to obey the community laws concerning animals?

  • Am I able to provide the amount of exercise my pet needs?

  • Am I willing to be patient in training and housebreaking?

  • Am I willing to make a commitment to a pet for life?

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