Are you thinking about getting a pet? You’re in good company. According to a 2019-2020 survey by the American Pet Products Association, 63.4 million households owned a dog and 42.7 million owned a cat. While adding a pet to your family can be a new, fun and exciting adventure, pets also come with a strong dose of responsibility. It’s important to make sure you’re up to the task before bringing home a new pet.

Things to Think About Before Bringing Home a New Pet

First, it’s important to take a step back and look at the whole picture. Have you thought about whether you or other family members have time to care for a pet? Have you considered the cost? Here, we review the things you need to know before getting a pet, including how a pet may change your day-to-day routine and your insurance coverage.

1. Different Types of Animals Have Different Personalities

First and foremost, research the type of pet you are thinking about getting. It’s possible that you’ve dreamed of owning an Olde English Bulldog your whole life, but you may find that when you research this breed, their behavior doesn’t match your lifestyle. It’s easy to fall in love with a specific type of dog, cat or bird, but you need to consider whether it’s the right fit for you or your home.

2. Pets Need Your Time and Attention

Time is one of the most important things to consider when you’re thinking about bringing home a new pet. It’s hard to resist the cuteness of puppies and kittens, but there are many responsibilities when it comes to their care. For example, if you’re getting a puppy, you must account for house training, obedience training, walking, feeding and giving the puppy attention. And keep in mind that it can take some time for a new pet to acclimate to your home and family. If you don’t have time to devote to a pet, owning a pet may not be right for you right now.

3. Pets Need Space — Some More Than Others

Think about the pet you want to get and consider where you live and how much space you have. Is it a fit? While small pets like cats, fish or a guinea pig can be happy in any type of dwelling, certain dog breeds do better in certain types of homes. Big, high-energy dogs may do better in an environment with a yard, while low-energy dogs may love an apartment. If you live in a condo, high-rise building or apartment, research nearby dog parks or trails where you can walk your dog so you know what’s available around you.

If you live in a rental property, make sure your landlord allows pets and that there aren’t breed restrictions. Some rental properties have limitations on pet weight and the number of pets allowed in a unit.

4. The Cost of Owning a Pet Doesn’t Stop With Adoption Fees

Pets aren’t cheap, and the costs don’t stop after the adoption or purchasing fee. Pets need food, veterinary care, grooming, and spaying and neutering to name a few. Plus, if you travel frequently, you’ll need to find a pet sitter, which can add up quickly. Pets can have medical conditions like diabetes or arthritis that require extensive veterinary care and medication, so make sure you’re in a position to care for their needs if unexpected health conditions arise.  

5. Not Every Pet Will Be a Fit for Your Family

When visiting a breeder or an adoption center, ask if you’re able to schedule a home visit with the pet. A home visit can be beneficial for not only the potential pet owner, but for the pet, as well. Home visits can be especially beneficial if there are children in the home.

Many animal rescues offer “pet for a day” programs that allow potential pet owners to spend a day with a pet. This is a great way to see if the animal will easily blend in with your family or if it is better suited for a different family.

6. Some Pets May Not Be Eligible for Coverage

Whether you’re looking at buying a pet from a breeder or adopting from your local animal rescue shelter, the breed of your dog may affect your homeowner’s liability insurance. Your agent can discuss any limitations.

Make Sure You’re Covered

When you bring home a new pet, your family starts a new adventure. Make sure you’re prepared by ensuring you have the right coverage. Contact your local Farm Bureau agent to learn more about how a new pet can affect your insurance.