Congratulations on making the decision to expand your family! If you have just added a furry friend to your family and this is your first time as a pet owner, you may be feeling overwhelmed and wondering what to do next. Pets are a huge responsibility, and any anxious feelings you have about not being prepared are normal.
Your new pet will become your companion, best friend, child, and snuggle buddy all in one. They will become a major part of your day-to-day and you may be unsure of where exactly you are going to incorporate your pet into your routine.
Whether you are confused about how to budget for your four-legged friend’s expenses, take care of their health and well-being, or prepare your home for your latest addition, these tips can help you plan accordingly.
Table of Contents
- 1. Budgeting Your Expenses
- 2. Taking Care of Your Pet’s Health
- 3. Preparing Your Environment
- 4. Preparing an Emergency Kit for Your Pet
- Final Thought
1. Budgeting Your Expenses
When arriving at the decision to get a pet you surely evaluated your financial standing. Pets are a financial commitment and investment. You should ask yourself the question: am I financially ready for a pet? Wanting a pet and being ready for a pet are two very different things.
As a pet owner, you will want to ensure that any unexpected expenses won’t put you into a bad financial situation. You will always want to put the health of your pet first and be confident that your pet will receive the best care possible throughout their life.
Common Expenses and Unexpected Costs
A good, general, starting place is to calculate and budget monthly expenses for your kitten or pup. Expenses can include training costs, pet insurance, grooming, food, visits to the vet, toys, medication, etc.
These are common expenses you will acquire when becoming a pet owner, but you will also encounter expenses that will be unexpected.
For instance, accidents happen and you can’t plan when or how those accidents will occur. You will want to put yourself in the best financial position possible and provide your pet with proper health care.
If you are planning on adopting or buying a puppy or kitten, you will want to dedicate more money to your monthly pet budget.
The first year with a young pet is potentially the most expensive because of the need to train them, groom them, spay/ neuter them, acquire vitamins, take them frequently to the vet, and handle any underlying conditions that may appear.
An overlooked aspect of pet ownership is the budgeting for pet insurance. Insurance is crucial for financial reasons and for the care of your pet. Your vet bills can pile up on you and cause stress.
The last thing you want to worry about is if you can afford to provide proper care for your four-legged friend. If you need help with pet bills, pet insurance is the way to go. It will help you plan your finances with a new pet and it can also be used in unforeseen circumstances.
With a pup or kitten, you will frequently have to visit the vet, whether it be for vaccinations, consistent check-ups, or procedures like if you decide to spay/neuter them. Insurance will allow you to give your pet the best health care while helping you stay financially stable.
Having insurance, knowing your budget, and acknowledging your financial responsibility is a significant first steps as a pet owner. It will allow you to feel as prepared as possible and set the expectation of how much money you will be spending on your four-legged friend.
2. Taking Care of Your Pet’s Health
Now that you know how to financially prepare and organize your expenses, you will want to look at how to take care of your pet’s health when you bring them home.
With frequent visits to the vet, taking your pet out for walks, and bringing them into a new environment, you want to make the health of your pet a priority as they get settled into their new family.
As a pet owner, you may need clarification on what exactly you should be feeding your pet. Wet food or dry food, meat or fish, and especially which brand is best for your animal.
It’s difficult for you to know exactly which brand of food will be best for your specific pet, but you can consult your veterinarian about what they think will be best suited for your dog or cat. Of course, this can be a trial and error process, and it may take time to find what your four-legged friend will enjoy eating.
As a pet parent, you ultimately have the option of what diet and food to keep your furry friend on and what aligns best with your lifestyle and the needs of your animal.
Another tip for a first-time pet owner is to look into microchipping and if it is right for you. A microchip implant is an identifying integrated circuit placed under the skin of your pet that will allow you to find your furry friend if they get lost or stolen. You should look into how microchips work for your four-legged companion.
Microchipping your pet allows you to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances. To be clear, a microchip is not a GPS and it’s not a substitute for it. If you plan to have your pet outside frequently it is recommended to get both devices as they complement each other well.
It is a form of reassurance for you and your pet in the event you two become separated. A microchip and GPS are essential tools to have on hand in an emergency. It is difficult to think about losing your pet, but it is better to be prepared than not.
A last tip for the health of your pet is socialization. You may be hesitant as a pet parent to socialize your furry friend too early but it is best to help them get accustomed to other animals as soon as you can.
Socialization will allow your dog or cat to be able to enjoy interactions with other pets but also with other people. Whether it is at an older age or younger, you should always strive to socialize with your pet.
Puppies and kittens should be socialized at an early age due to the fact that they are in a sensitive and influential stage in their growth and development. When socializing you will want to go out and take your pet to interact with other people and animals.
Make sure to encourage your pet while socializing and give them treats and cuddles for a job well done. It can be difficult to socialize for them, so positive reinforcements will help ease any stress or anxiety they may have.
For older pets, it is possible to socialize but it does take a bit more patience. It is a long process but if you start small and progressively increase their socialization, they should become more comfortable around others over time.
Pay close attention to your older pet’s limits and any behavioral changes they may express. Your older four-legged companion will benefit from socializing and show positive changes after they become accustomed to it.
3. Preparing Your Environment
After going through your expenses and taking care of the health of your pet you will want to prepare your home for your addition. When bringing your new four-legged companion home, you will want to ensure your environment is safe and will be comfortable.
Create a Daily Routine for Your Pet
One of the first things you will want to do is create a daily routine for them. It will not only allow them to become accustomed to their new space but also help them to feel like this new space is their home.
Having a pet is demanding on your schedule, especially if you adopted a kitten or puppy. Creating a schedule together will not only help your four-legged friend get used to their new environment but also bond with you as well.
Keeping a daily schedule in reference to feeding, walking, exercising, playing, and sleeping will support your training and also help with any behavioral challenges your pet may experience.
Your pet will thrive on having consistency from you as their owner. Especially for younger pets, who need that constant stimulation and attention. Providing social and emotional support for your kittens and pups will help their development tremendously.
Create Space for Your Pet
Apart from a routine, you will also need to give your pet their own space. Your furry friend is going through a lot of changes, and creating a safe space for them to retreat to is essential. A tip for a first-time pet owner is to create a space solely for your pet.
Creating a comfy space will allow your cat or dog to have a safe space to go to when they feel overwhelmed or overstimulated.
You should learn how to create a personalized space for your pet. Start with the location that you believe will create a feeling of comfort and safety for your furry friend. You can identify a quiet area of your home to prepare before your pet arrives, but be prepared to change locations if your cat or dog finds a different space cozier.
You will want to make it personal for your pet and bring in all their toys and comfy blankets. This personalized space will allow you to keep your supplies in one location.
By doing this, you will be able to keep their environment safe and clean while also acknowledging them as an active part of your family. Giving them a cute pet bowl for food and water and a nice pet bed will surely make them feel right at home.
After preparing your pet their own space, you will also want to “pet-proof” around your home. Of course, your pet has its own space and will usually retreat to that comfort zone, keep in mind that your home is full of new sounds, smells, and rooms to explore.
Setting boundaries for your four-legged friend is a good strategy and will help with their training as well. Including animal gates around your home is a great first step into “pet-proofing” areas or rooms that could be unsafe for your new friend.
As a pet parent, you should be aware that there are also common toxins in your household you will need to keep out of reach from your four-legged companion. You should take some time to identify any dangerous items for your pet and make a conscious effort to keep your pet away from these items.
It is important to have latches installed on cabinets and doors, and place things on higher shelves that won’t be easily reached. These tips can help keep the health of your first-time pet a priority and leave you feeling a bit more prepared.
4. Preparing an Emergency Kit for Your Pet
A last tip we can recommend is to prepare an emergency kit for your pet. When it comes to an emergency, your pets will look to you to guide them and keep them safe.
Emergencies are scary enough as it is, which is why it’s so important to have a plan in place on how best to navigate any unexpected situation. To make sure your pets are a crucial part of the plan, we’ve provided some tips to help you account for them in a crisis:
You may have supplies in place for your family that will offer you aid in case of an emergency, your pet needs the same. Create a pet-centered emergency kit that will provide them with everything they need whether you have to quickly evacuate your home or shelter-in-place for an extended period of time.
In addition to their everyday needs, always pack a first-aid kit. This should include any medications they need to take, bandages, and over-the-counter aids like antihistamines or pain relievers. For medications specifically, be sure to store them in a waterproof container, and again, pack at least a week’s supply.
During an emergency situation, your pet could need immediate medical attention, but you may not be able to access your typical vet.
So, in order to get your pet the care they may need, you will have to have their medical and vaccination records on hand. This will help other providers know how best to care for them. Keep a spare copy within your emergency kit to ensure you are prepared.
When it comes to emergency preparedness, an evacuation plan is key. Designate a specific family member who can be responsible for leashing up your pet quickly and getting them out.
Designate a second family member responsible for grabbing the go bag. In the event your pet is home alone at the time of the emergency, make a plan with a friend, family member, or neighbor who can check on them and get them out if necessary.
You’ll want to do your research and know what your options are to find a safe shelter. This could be anything from a pet-friendly hotel to a friend’s house, or even to a kennel. Printing these resources out and keeping the papers inside your emergency kit or car will be useful in the event that you cannot access a phone or internet while you are evacuating.
If you have to shelter in place in one room of your home, again, you’ll want to designate one family member to retrieve your pet and another to retrieve the supplies.
If time and safety allow, try to bring additional toys or their bed into the space to help keep them comfortable. Try to keep your pet active and engaged to avoid them becoming restless and attempting to leave the safe area.
After the emergency, your pet may need time to calm down from the disruption. Be very cautious of letting them roam free in the event of a natural disaster or an event that has caused damage to their home and surrounding area, as they may feel disoriented.
Letting them roam could lead them to run off out of fear or confusion. Try to get back into a normal routine as soon as possible, and be patient with them as everyone works to navigate this difficult time.
Bringing a new pet home is a huge milestone in your life. Now that you know how to budget the expenses of your pet, take care of their health, create a safe environment for them, and prepare an emergency kit, you have the best first-time pet owner tips for starting a love-filled life together.
We hope these tips help you and your family feel safe and prepared to care for your new family pet in any scenario.