Pet Care Basics

Should I Get a Pet? What to Know Before Getting a Dog or Cat

So you’re thinking of getting a pet dog or cat to add to your home. At this point, we don’t need to tell you about all the fun, snuggles, games of fetch and of course the love that a furry friend will bring. But before you bring your new pet home, it’s important to make sure that you’re up for the “tough stuff” that comes with pet ownership too. Housetraining, vet bills, food costs and time are just a few of the factors to consider before getting a pet.

Do I Have Enough Time for a Dog or Cat?

You may be working or doing school from home right now and thinking a four-legged friend would make a great addition to your home office. But you need to also look down the road. Will you still be working from home two months or even two years from now? If going back to the office is likely, then make sure you have a plan in place for when that time comes. It isn’t fair to a new puppy or kitten to be left alone in your home all day.

Getting a new pet is a commitment that typically lasts for many years, so make sure you have a long term plan. According to the average lifespan of a dog is six to 14 years, depending on the breed. And cats typically live anywhere between 10 to 15 years, depending on how much time they spend outdoors.

Budgeting for a Dog or Cat

Pets are expensive. Depending on the size, type of food and the health of your animal, owning a pet can take a sizeable bite into your wallet. According to, the average cost of owning a dog is between $300 and $2,000 per year, with the first year of ownership typically being the most expensive. And cats are about the same, averaging between $300 to nearly $2,000 per year. Those numbers consider vet visits, food, toys, crates, treats, flea and tick protection, a bed and more.

What to Consider Before Getting a Dog or Cat

Every cat and dog have their own personality and their own little quirks. And that can sometimes be hard to know about until you actually get home. However, there are general behavioral, space needs and shedding expectations depending on the breed, so it’s a good idea to do your research before picking out your new pet. How much exercise will he need? Will she like living in an apartment? Does she shed? Is he allergy-friendly, family-friendly… or just overall friendly? has a helpful breakdown of most dog breeds, by size, lifestyle, living arrangements, etc. Make sure the pet you choose will easily fit into your current lifestyle so you don’t find yourself needing to buy a farm for your dog to run around.

Potty Training New Dog or Cat

Housetraining, also known as potty training, is a pretty big part of getting a new pet. Whether the animal is young or mature, midnight potty breaks and accidents on the living room floor are to be expected. For cats, one thing to keep in mind is a new cat in the house can be a trigger for cat urine marking. So make sure you have a litterbox for a new cat and lots of patience, Wee-Wee Pads and lots and lots of paper towels and urine odor and stain remover for a new dog or puppy.

Is There a Veterinarian’s Office Nearby?

Just like people need regular checkups at the doctor, your pet will need regular vet visits. Cat and dog vaccinations, spaying, neutering, injury care, dental cleanings, nail trims and general annual health checks are just a few of the reasons you may need a vet. Having a veterinarian nearby just makes it much easier when that time comes.

Along those same lines, if the breed you are considering needs regular furcuts, make sure to look up the reviews of nearby groomers, so you can keep your pooch looking sharp.

If your pet will be traveling to the vet or groomer’s via a crate, make sure to get the right size travel crate. Here is a helpful video for those with dogs: How to Measure a Dog for a Crate. And since we know cats can sometimes be stubborn when it comes to getting into their crates, check out this article: Cat Carrier Tips: How to Take a Cat to the Vet.

Should You Have Your Pet Microchipped?

Microchips, such as the Buddy ID Mini Chip, are a great way to help lost pets be reunited with their owners. But they aren’t a GPS tracking system. The animal must first be found, then a microchip scanner can determine if the lost animal has a microchip. If a chip is found, the name of the registered owner can be looked up in a database; however, if you don’t register the pet’s microchip in your name, your name won’t show up as the owner.

Whether you are getting a pet from a shelter, rescue or breeder, if it already has a microchip, great! Just make sure to ask about how to change the records to show you are the new owner. If the pet isn’t microchipped, then that would be another great thing to discuss with your vet or if you want to try to do it yourself, check out the video: How to Microchip a Dog.

Bringing a new pet into your home is one of the most life-changing and rewarding things you can do. But just make sure you’re ready so you end up getting the best pet for you. Reading a book such as Your Pandemic Puppy can help you feel prepared for what to expect as you welcome a new pup to your home.

If you have more questions about your new pet’s health or behavior, call a Revival Pet Care Pro at 800.786.4751.

Shelley Hexom

Written by: Shelley Hexom

Content Manager

Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy® Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.