Pets bring joy, companionship, and endless entertainment into our lives. When you add a pet into your family, you’re gaining a loyal friend who will be there with you during the good times as well as during the bad. If you bring home a pet, you’re making a commitment not just to care for it, but to also accept the financial responsibility and challenging times that go along with pet ownership.
Pets will be with you through some significant milestones, whether it’s welcoming home a new baby or helping your pet through a serious medical issue. The more prepared you are for these pet-parent milestones, the easier it will be to deal with these changes when they occur.
Adding a New Family Member
Family size often fluctuates, and adding a new human or animal family member can be stressful for an existing pet. If you adopt or buy a new pet, remember to still give your current pet plenty of attention so that they don’t feel left out. Plan ahead so that you can keep your new pet separated from your current pet for a few days or weeks, and always make introductions gradually in a controlled, supervised environment.
Bringing home a new baby can be a challenge, but you can help your pet cope with this adjustment, too. Take some steps to prepare your pet for the baby’s arrival well before the baby is born. Establish boundaries within the house and start keeping your pet out of the room that will become the nursery. You can also prepare your pet to be tolerant of the baby by handling his ears or gently pulling on his tail like a young child might, then praising him for a positive response.
Plan ahead to make these changes as easy for your pet as possible. Try to give your pet an area in the home where they feel secure. That area might be a bed in the office where it’s quiet, a crate of their own where they aren’t disturbed, or purchase a cat tree that allows your cat to perch up high and feel safe. Even when a new pet or baby may take up much of your attention, be sure to set some time aside for your current pet to check in with them and help make the situation feel more normal.
Dealing With Medical Emergencies
Veterinary care is a standard expense when you own a pet, but emergency vet bills can be substantial and unexpected. If your pet eats a foreign object, breaks a bone, or has any number of other illnesses or injuries, he may need surgery, which can be thousands of dollars. In some situations, you may be able to write off the cost of your pet’s surgery on your taxes, but those conditions are specific and limited. In most cases, you’ll need to cover those vet bills and will receive no tax credit for doing so.
Being prepared for these veterinary emergencies can help to ease some of the stress you’ll feel during that time. Consider enrolling your pet in a pet health insurance program, which can cover some or all of your emergency veterinary costs. You should also establish a savings fund just for your pet. Put money into the fund weekly or monthly and don’t touch it for anything but a true veterinary emergency.
Don’t forget that prevention can go a long way in keeping your pet healthy and can even reduce the risk of him needing an emergency procedure. Work with your vet to ensure that your pet is up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations, and take your pet in to see the vet annually to discuss his weight and overall health. Your vet may recommend that you help your pet lose some weight, since obesity can lead to health issues like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and more in pets. By keeping your veterinarian involved in your pet’s routine care, you can help keep your pet healthier, overall.
Moving to a New Home
Moving to a new home or apartment can be stressful for the whole family, including your pet. If you’ll be living in an apartment with your pet, plan out how you can use the space to make your pet feel at home. When you move, be ready to install window seats for your cat, take your dog to the dog park down the street, and have your pet’s bed and toys ready to go.
If you’re moving to a new house, do as much work to prepare the house for your pet ahead of time as possible. Have your yard fenced in so your dog can roam around and explore right away, and if you have cats, have a quiet room ready with their bedding and toys so they can stay safely out of the way of movers and heavy furniture or boxes.
Weathering a Natural Disaster
Hopefully you won’t have to ever go through a natural disaster with your pets, but it’s best to be prepared just in case. Prepare a disaster kit for your pets containing things like crates or cat carriers, a photo of your pet to show rescuers, and your pet’s medical and vaccination history. Keep supplies for your pet, like food, on hand just in case you ever do need to evacuate. Plan how you would evacuate with your pets so that you’re ready to go just in case.
With some preparation, your whole family can get through these significant pet-parent moments in life. Your pets will appreciate that you took the time to think about them ahead of time, and with a little effort, your family can get through these events and get to feeling normal again quickly.