BY ASHLEY CURRIE
It’s hard to find a Canadian that has never in his or her lifetime had a pet. Whether they are currently a pet owner or they had a beloved dog, cat or goldfish as a child, most Canadians have shared their home with an animal at some point. This comfort level with animals can lead some people to decide to bring home a new pet before they know all the work, time or money involved. Here are some tips on what you need to know before selecting a new pet.
For starters many people don’t quite realize the cost of owning a pet. A basic vet checkup for a cat or dog usually starts around $50 and that can go up quickly if your pet needs special treatments or medications. These bills can be considerably larger if you are purchasing a puppy or kitten which needs shots and possibly surgery. The cost of pet food and toys also adds up quickly.
“For food and essential supplies, cats usually cost about $40 to $50 per month,” said Jessie Lee, a veterinary student at the University of Guelph. “Dogs can cost $50 to $100. This all depends on what brands you’re buying and how much you pamper your pet, but even if you try to stick with the bargain products it still adds up.”
Lee suggests going with something a little more low maintenance such as a goldfish or a hamster if you’re worried about the cost of adopting a pet.
Another thing pet owners often forget to consider is the time that they must put into their pets. Many parents or grandparents buy puppies as gifts for children. “I’ll love it and brush it and walk it every day,” the six-year-old will say, but the likelihood of that child waking up at 6 a.m. to walk that puppy everyday is slim to none. Dogs need to exercise, cats’ litter boxes need to be cleaned, small animals need their cages cleaned, even fishbowl water should be changed regularly.
“Basically no matter what pet you get you’re going to have to clean up their poop. If you can’t deal with that you shouldn’t be a pet owner,” said Daniella Marshall, a Guelph resident and pet owner. Marshall currently has a dog and bunny but says that at their peak her family had three hamsters, two budgies, a tank full of goldfish, a dog, a kitten and even a neighbourhood squirrel that would stop by their door every day for a snack.
No matter what pet you are thinking of getting for yourself or a loved one, remember that the pet owner has to be ready and willing to take proper care of the pet. A responsible pet owner equals a happy pet.