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Should you get a pet?

Whether you’ve always been a pet owner and are on the lookout for a new companion or you’re looking to take on a pet for the first time, there are plenty of factors that will play into the decision.

Things to consider
You could take an online quiz or start charting out the pros and cons of each kind of animal, but you’ve probably already got a pretty good idea of the type of pet you’d like. You’ll know it’s a combination of what you want to get out of owning a pet and what you can offer the animal in return. Do you want the companionship of a cat? Or are you hoping to get a bit more active, and daily dog walks would help achieve this? For those more inclined to a low-maintenance pet, what about the bird or reptilian variety?

Other than the more obvious considerations like allergies and budgets, your living situation may change over the coming years. If you’re looking to downsize your home, move from owning to renting or making the transition to an aged care residence, these will have a bearing on your decision.

The most common pets like dogs and cats can live for up to 20 years, and having a plan in place for if your pet outlives you – through establishing a replacement carer informally with your family or defining someone more formally in a will or trust – will help ease any potential stress about your pet always having a safe place to call home.

If you’re someone who travels often, PetHomeStay is a website that matches owners who are going away with those willing to look after their pets for a daily fee. It’s an easy, cheaper alternative to traditional kennels.

What about being a foster carer?
If you’re not sure about committing to a pet full time, exploring foster care is a great option.

In Victoria, The Lost Dogs’ Home offers foster carers the chance to give an animal a safe and stress-free home for anywhere from two days to eight weeks, or you can take part in weekend fostering. Nationwide, head to PetRescue to enquire and offer your services as a foster carer.

The benefits of a pet
At a time when you might be feeling unsure about transitioning to retirement or adjusting to changes at work, there’s been strong research from the International Federation on Ageing that suggests companion animals are associated with increased self-esteem, life satisfaction, positive moods and lowered levels of loneliness.

For those who are looking for the social opportunities that might come from having a pet, you’ll know a dog is one of your best bets. Not only will you have the companionship of your loyal furry mate, but also the daily walks or trips to the park will provide opportunities to get to know neighbours and build a strong support network.

Your lifestyle may have changed recently, from kids moving out of home to having more free time outside of work to take on other activities, so now is as good a time as any to think about bringing an animal into your home.

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