Am i too busy to own a pet? How to choose a pet to match your lifestyle
- by DR Roxanne Jones
Adding a pet to your home can seem like a great idea, especially when you spend all your free time flicking through photos of French bulldogs on Instagram. But there’s more to owning a pet than cute social media photos!
Different animals need varying degrees attention and care. But, no matter what kind of pet you adopt, be it a cat, dog, fish or guinea pig, your new addition will require commitment on your part. If you have a busy lifestyle, you have to be realistic about how much attention you can really give to your new pet. Ask yourself honestly: do you really have the time to fit a pet into your hectic lifestyle?
Am I too busy to own a pet?
If you have a demanding job, a full social life and other commitments that regularly keep you away from home (like travelling for work), it might not be the best idea to get a pet. However, if you find you spend most of your free time at home and have the willingness and ability to dedicate time each day to your furbaby, a pet might be the way to go. So how do you know?
Start by thinking about what kind of pet you want. A dog requires the most amount of dedication – it’s not simply enough to be at home for an hour a day with your pooch. Dogs need to be exercised regularly, especially if you live in a smaller space. But just as important as exercise is human interaction: dogs absolutely live for your love and attention.
Dogs, after all, are pack animals – they’re not solitary creatures. In the wild, they’d be raised by their parents and live among a large doggie family. In a domestic setting, humans take the place of canine companions and therefore need to make sure that their pet pooch receives sufficient amounts of interaction, both from themselves and from other pets.
This is why some busy pet owners take their dogs to pet day care during the day when they’re at work. This ensures that their pets receive stimulation and attention, and become well socialised, rather than sitting at home alone, frustrated and pining after their owners. If you’re certain you want a dog but you work long hours, it’s vitally important to consider how you’ll keep your dog occupied and happy. Doggie day care is an excellent option, as is enlisting the services of a dog walker, ideally on a daily basis.
I’m too busy to own a dog. Should I get a cat?
While some cats require less attention than dogs, bear in mind that cats tend to bond with their human companions and come to crave their company and attention. Every cat is different: some like to roam and spend time alone, while others absolutely love curling up on your lap or simply being in your company. A cat who doesn’t receive the level of love and affection it desires is likely to move out and find another place to live.
Therefore, even having a cat will require you to spend some time at home. If you’re hectically busy and still want to get a cat, consider getting two. Animals are generally sociable creatures (even cats!) and are happiest when they have friends to interact and bond with. Same goes for dogs.
What pets besides cats and dogs could fit into my busy lifestyle?
Fish, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds are other options for people with busy lifestyles. However, even these smaller, less demanding creatures require a degree of attention and care. Cleaning cages or tanks, taking them to the vet when they’re sick and ensuring they have a stimulating, safe and comfy environment are all important factors for any type of animal. While this an extreme case, this lady spent $500 saving her goldfish’s life!
So, what’s the verdict? Should I get a pet?
Be honest with yourself and decide whether you truly have the dedication and commitment it takes to own a pet. Pets should be included as part of the family, not purchased or adopted and then left to live outside or wile away the days on their own. If you aren’t sure that you have what it takes to give a pet a happy, fulfilled and stimulating life, then rather wait until your schedule allows it. Spend time with friends’ pets or better yet, volunteer at a shelter. This will enable you to interact with some special animals, enjoying their wet kisses, purrs and wagging tails, without taking on the full-time commitment of being a pet owner. It’s the best of both worlds for busy professionals.
If and when you do decide to get a pet, browse the rest of our blog for more great articles on taking the best possible care of your cat or dog.