Not a Pet Owner Yet?
- What kind of pet are you interested in?
- Will you adopt this pet?
- Will you get this pet from a certified breeder?
- Will you get this pet from a pet store?
Getting your First Pet
Read through these general tips to get started.
- Dogs require an active lifestyle. Regardless of size, all dogs love playing outside and exploring the outdoors, so expect to take your dog for walks daily when he’s old enough (usually 3-4 weeks).
- Dogs require regular check-ups at the vet. Take your dog to see your vet at least once a year, more so as he ages. Ensure that your dog is properly vaccinated and spayed / neutered. Spaying / neutering has massive health benefits for both male and female dogs!
- Dog proof your house. You don’t want your new pet falling ill because he accidentally ate your chocolate. Dogs are like babies. They love putting things in their mouths!
- Love your dog. We know you love dogs. That’s why you’re getting one! But will you love your dog? Will you spend enough time playing and bonding with him? A dog’s a big commitment. You definitely don’t want your new pet to be lonely.
- Depending on your family and your dog, you may have to get your dog trained. For children under 12, even play biting can be rough. But don’t worry, it’s an easy habit to curb early on. Don’t forget, you’ll also have to potty train your dog if he isn’t already.
- Will you have an indoor or indoor-outdoor cat? Plenty of cats are happy being indoors, but some owners like to let their cats out for a bit of fresh air. Be careful though — certain HOAs and municipalities dislike outdoor cats because of the havoc they wreck on local bird populations. We recommend keeping an indoor cat and letting your cat out in the backyard once in a while… under your watchful eye. Don’t let your cat out unmonitored!
- Take your cat to the vet. Like dogs, cats also need to see the vet, at least once a year, or 5-6 months if they’re older or have chronic health issues. Get your cat vaccinated and spayed. Spaying has numerous health benefits for cats. Plus, feral cat populations pose enormous threats to ecosystems.
- Does my cat even like me? Unlike dogs, cats are independent creatures. They always find something to preoccupy themselves with. They’re not always interested in your affection. This is normal! Your cat will seek you out when he wants to. And when he does… you better pet him lots!
- Scoop up that poop. Cats are easy to potty train. All you need is a litter box with sand for your cat to use when he needs to do a number 1 or 2. Litter boxes can be closed or open, and you’ll have to empty it at least once a day. Wash your hands thoroughly after emptying litter boxes!
- Me-ouch! Watch those claws! Like a dog’s powerful bite, a cat’s scratches are painful. Kittens don’t know their own strength sometimes (they’re just babies!). Take your cat to a groomer, or trim his nails regularly yourself. And save your couch by buying Fluffy a good scratching post!
- Birds need big cages. Your pet bird is going to hang out in his cage for the majority of his life, so buy a roomy cage and fill it with fun bird toys. Buy a cage that’s large and high, so your bird can stretch his wings. If you’re buying a larger bird, like a parrot, you’ll likely have him out of his cage a lot. In that case, buy a nice, grippy, T-shaped perch for him to rest on.
- Birds get cold easily. Most pet birds are tropical songbirds. These birds are used to hot conditions, so you have to keep them warm. All bird cages should sit at room temperature (21 to 25 degrees Celsius).
- Look for a good bird vet. Most vets specialize in dogs and cats, since they’re by far the most popular pets in the world. So they might not know how to diagnose your pet bird. You should seek out an avian vet for all your bird health needs.
- Give your birds affection. This may come off as obvious, but new bird owners often believe their birds are happy by themselves — this isn’t true! Your bird wants to play with you. Birds aren’t just ornaments to be admired. They get bored too, especially since they can’t fly around. Whistle to your birds, play them music, and interact with them daily.
- Learn your bird’s language. Pet owners often report understanding their pets’ different calls. Your bird is no different. Pay attention to your bird’s body and vocalizations to tell when he’s hungry, thirsty, bored, etc. Unhappy birds end up plucking their feathers off in a frenzied manner — avoid this behaviour by meeting your bird’s physical and social needs!
- Fish need big tanks. Like birds, fish need big spaces so they can roam around freely. There’s nothing more cruel than confining an animal to a small space. No matter how tiny your fish is — all marine life deserves a large habitat. So please buy a huge tank for your fish!
- Buy and set up your tank first. The fish come later. Be sure to test and cycle your tank before adding any living creatures to it. Test your water quality, Ph, and make sure fresh water is circulating throughout the tank. Don’t forget to add cool, fish-safe decorations to your tank. Fish love interacting with new things!
- Watch your species! Do your research before mixing fish species. For example, Betta fish are a very popular pet in North America. But Bettas are very fierce. You don’t want to put the wrong fish in your aquarium with your Betta. That’s just asking for trouble!
- Planning an outdoor pond? If you’re enthralled by the idea of outdoor fish, you’ll need to ensure there’s enough oxygen in your pond first, and that your pond is at the right temperature for your fish. Don’t add too many fish to the pond or its oxygen levels will decrease. Keep a huge tank indoors for emergencies and the winter months. Don’t keep your fish outdoors when it’s snowing outside!
- Play with your fish. Even a pet as conventionally boring as a fish likes to interact with things. Especially certain species, like goldfish. Impress your fish-hating friends with one simple trick! Place a hoop in your tank and reward fish with food for going through the hoop. Eventually they’ll learn that the hoop = food. Some goldfish have even been trained to play soccer underwater!
- No matter what pet you plan on getting, know that your pet will need to see a vet at some point. Every animal from a pet mouse to a pet lizard can come down with an illness that only a trained vet will be able to diagnose. Before buying a pet, find a good vet. And get your pet its basic vaccinations ASAP.
- Adopt or purchase your pet from a local humane society, adoption agency or certified breeder. If your pet was bred, it should come with professional paperwork identifying the breeder, the breed, and other key identification information. Adopted pets come with adoption agreement paperwork and require you to show government ID before adopting. We don’t recommend buying a pet from a pet store or from any random person.
- Understand your municipality’s laws regarding pets. If you’re interested in an uncommon or exotic pet, you’ll need to know if owning that pet is legal in your country first! For example, Fennec foxes are popular exotic pets, but they’re only legal in certain states. Similarly, know which parks are leash-free and which ones aren’t, and if you live in an apartment, make sure your building allows pets before getting one!
- Animals are wild. Yup, you read that right. Animals smell weird and behave weirdly at times. Get used to it! They may growl and be mad at you one minute, and all happy and cute the next. Just like us! You need to know how to handle your pet properly, both alone and with others. If Rover barks angrily at anyone who approaches you, train him to stop doing that.
- Pets are a big responsibility. Sit down and think about the time commitments you’ll have to make if you were to get a pet. Will you have enough time to play or interact with your pet? Will you have the patience and understanding required to discipline your pet? You’re like a parent to a small child. You and your pet will grow together, through the highs and lows, the ups and downs. Are you prepared for it?