How to tell if you're actually ready to have multiple pets
- Living in a multi-pet household can be wonderful but deciding whether or not to have more than one animal is a big decision.
- Before adopting multiple animals, consider if you can comfortably afford regular veterinary costs, grooming, food, and other recurring necessities for more than one pet.
- If you're concerned about whether or not your pets will get along, you may want to adopt two animals that are already close to each other.
- Introducing pets to each other can take a lot of time and energy, so you'll want to ensure you have the time and means to help your animals adjust to a new home.
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Sometimes more really is better. And if you're an animal lover, this might be the case with adopting new pets.
Whether you already have one pet and are looking to bring home a new animal or you don't have any yet but are thinking about adopting multiple, there are a few things you may want to consider.
INSIDER spoke to Kelly DiCicco, manager of adoptions promotions at ASPCA Adoption Center, about how to figure out if adopting multiple animals is the right move for you as well as how to make things go as smoothly as possible if you do decide to become a multi-pet household.
Here's how to decide if you're prepared to have multiple pets.
First and foremost, make sure you can comfortably afford to care for multiple animals.
A pet (or two, or more) is a lifetime obligation and having one comes with financial responsibilities. In addition to the initial adoption fees and items like litter boxes, toys, leashes, collars, and food, there are inevitable medical bills and other recurring costs, like grooming, to take into consideration when deciding if you're prepared to become a multi-pet household.
If your pet has not already been vaccinated, spayed, or neutered upon your adopting them, you'll also want to take those costs into account, though sometimes these costs are factored into adoption fees. You'll also want to see if your budget can accommodate regular veterinary, care even for young and healthy pets and especially for senior pets or those with special needs.
"When adopting, you will also be given an overview of your new pet's medical history," DiCicco said. "It's good to take a thorough read of this information early on to identify anything that could potentially require extra veterinary care and costs down the line."
Although the costs of owning a pet vary, the ASPCA has a helpful price-estimate breakdown that covers most of the general costs associated with adopting and caring for cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals.
Consider looking for bonded pairs if you know you want two new pets.
In many cases, a rescue organization will strongly prefer to keep a pair of pets together, particularly young siblings who have an emotional bond. If you know that you're looking to bring two new friends home, this is a good option to inquire about at the shelters you visit.
"Not only does adopting a bonded pair mean you'll know your new pet has a buddy they get along with to keep them company while you are at work, but you also know that your new cat or dog has someone that they enjoy playing with, which is especially important for kittens and young cats and can help prevent play aggression toward people," DiCicco said.
That being said, animals and their relationships with others can change over time, so even though pets are bonded know that there's no guarantee they will stay best buds for life.
If you already own a pet and want another, know that you'll have to take extra time and special care to make sure your animals feel comfortable around each other.
If you're looking to add to a household that already includes one or more pets, keep in mind that you'll need to dedicate time and energy to gradually introducing your resident animal to your new one.
When adopting an animal, DiCicco said she recommends talking to shelter staff for suggestions regarding a potential new pet. They may also be able to give you specialised advice for bringing your new pet home since they're familiar with them and their behaviors.
She also urges pet owners to set reasonable expectations and, when possible, plan controlled meetings between animals. When it comes to certain animals, especially dogs, you'll want to introduce your resident pet to your new one in a neutral setting, not your home.
"Be realistic and keep in mind that, because all animals are individuals, they may not love every other dog or cat they meet, even if they usually enjoy having animal friends," she added.
If you plan to get multiple new pets at once, you may want to consider doing staggered adoptions instead.
If you plan to get multiple new animals that aren't already bonded, you may want to space out these adoptions. Although this staggered process can be time-consuming, it can be beneficial to your animals in the long run.
"For most families, it's ideal to adopt one animal at a time to get to know your new pet, build strong routines, strengthen relationships and conduct individual training. It's much easier to repeat the process with another animal once habits are established," said DiCiccio.
Pets may not get along right away and you may have to gradually introduce animals to each other. It may also take a few tries to get things just right. You will want to dedicate time for supervising your pets' interactions so you can make sure the experience is safe and low-stress for all parties involved.
Also consider how much time, space, and energy you'd be able to dedicate to multiple pets.
Your animals aren't the only ones who need to be happy. Consider your own limitations, like the amount of time you can devote to walking and providing other forms of pet care. Also consider the allergies of anyone in your household - two long-haired cats may not better than one if your roommate has pretty bad pet-dander allergies.
And if you're a renter, be sure to check your lease to make sure you won't be breaking any rules or contracts as some landlords do not allow renters to have multiple pets. You may also want to consider how much space you have in your current living situation and if it is enough for multiple animals (and people) to comfortably live.
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