8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Family Pet

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They’ve been pleading, begging and bargaining…for a furry friend! And honestly, who wouldn’t want to add more love to their family? Pets are beloved companions for a reason. Being in the presence of animals has been shown to relieve stress (and add joy!), as they quickly become like a member of the family! It is a big decision, though, since dogs and cats can live for ten years or more years, with added responsibilities to take care of your new best friend. Still on the fence and trying to decide whether or not to go for it? Here is a list of eight questions to ask yourself before getting a family pet that just may help you decide.

Every family’s pet journey looks a little different, but one thing remains the same: We all want our furry friends to be healthy and happy. Hill’s provides science-backed nutrition for every age, size and need and makes it easier to support your pet’s needs. Learn more about how Hill’s helps pet owners stay a step ahead. 



1. What Type of Pet Should You Get?

Cat, dog, hamster...lizard—did you grow up with a cat, dog or other? Your answer may help inform your choice: picking an animal that you are already comfortable cohabitating with. If you’re still not sure, think about your family’s lifestyle. Are you super active? Maybe a dog! Are you traveling often or prefer more lap snuggles? Maybe a cat. Or snake? Decisions, decisions.

2. Where Should You Get a Pet?

You can't go wrong with adopting from the shelter! Chances are, there is a local animal shelter or two near you. They have lots of cats and dogs to choose from: Large, medium and small breeds, pure breeds and mixes, puppies and adult dogs (already potty-trained, bonus!), cats and kittens of all kinds. A good deal of the people working in animal shelters are volunteers and very pet-savvy. They can help you pick the purrfect pet that fits your family's personality and preference.

Hill's has teamed up with shelters across the country to keep dogs and cats happy and healthy! Find a shelter near you.

3. Will Your New Pet Be Safe Around Your Kids?

Yet another reason we love shelter adoptions: The shelter caregivers tend to know their animals very well, from history to how they currently interact with people and other pets. Ask which pets have experience with younger kids or families. Like any new friends, once you take a new pet home, be sure to supervise any interactions as your baby and new fur baby slowly get to know each other—just watch that animal-human bond grow!

4. What Responsibilities Will The Kids Have?

It’s a good idea to make this clear before choosing your new bestie: Caring for a pet is a team effort. It’s also a great way to encourage responsibility and time-management skills in your kids. Like us, animals thrive on a routine; eating, going for walks, sleeping and yes, going “potty” around the same time every day. For younger kids, making sure their pet has food and water is an excellent way to involve them. Older kids can help with walks and clean-up. We promise the rewards of having a pet, and the love you get back, will be well worth the effort!

5. How Will Having a Pet Change Your Day-to-Day Routine?

See the answer to question four. Pets need care, so setting up an "eat, walk, potty" schedule is crucial. Puppies are adorable but potty training, much like with a child, can be a challenge. If you’re not up for that, try an older dog or cat! They still have so much love to give and lots of fun to share with your family. Also, if you travel often or work long hours away from home, remember you will need a pet sitter or kennel drop-off (or just a really good friend to hold the leash while you're gone, who loves your pet as much as you do!).

6. Are You Prepared for The Extra Cost?

Caring for a pet can add up. This is another reason why we love shelter adoption. Not only are you saving an animal in need but you only pay a small fee to adopt rather than a large sum to a breeder, which can be upwards of a thousand dollars. A dog or cat will need food, vet visits, spay or neutering, grooming (nail trims and baths…) and health care throughout their lives, so keep that in mind. You may also want to check out Pet Insurance. It’s very affordable and can help in case your pet falls ill or is injured. 

7. How Do You Feel About Pet Hair (Everywhere)?

You get a new pet and before you know it, you’re covered in pet hair 24/7. There are plenty of great pet-hair removing vacuums out there which you may want to consider, also the old school tape roll on a stick (hey, it works!). If you experience any allergy symptoms from pet fur, consider getting an allergy-friendly breed. Some dogs have fur, which sheds and some have hair, which grows out and needs to be trimmed from time to time. The latter tends to be more hypo-allergenic but be sure to check with your doctor and ask your local shelter helper!

8. What's Your Care Plan When You're Away?

If you are home all day, you're set for snuggles! If not, you may need to hire a pet walker or pet sitter. Dogs and cats can certainly be on their own for a while but need bathroom breaks and play, just like us. There are even doggy daycares if you need more full-day work coverage. And hey, pets need to socialize, too, so it's a win-win!