Want A New Pet? Read This First

Important points to consider before you find yourself a new fur-child or feathered friend.

By Mandy Lim Beitler        26 March 2021

With work from home arrangements and scuttled vacation plans, it seems like the perfect time to have that pet you’ve always wanted but never had time for. You aren’t alone. Many Singaporeans have redirected their unused travel funds to shopping for a new puppy or kitten since the Covid-19 pandemic set in. But are you truly ready for a pet? Consider these key points first.

Lifetime Commitment

You’ve probably heard that “A pet is a lifetime of commitment”. But what does this really mean?

Well, dogs can live from eight to 16 years on average (smaller breeds tend to live longer than bigger ones), while cats can live up to 20 years or even longer. The lifespan of rabbits is around 10 years, while two to three years is normal for hamsters. Small birds like parakeets may average about six years, but some large parrots have even been known to outlive their original owner!

Keeping in mind that just like humans, pets are likely to face more health issues as they get older – are you prepared to commit to caring for your pet for its entire life, however long it lives?

Family Friendly

It may be your pet, but unless you live alone, it also becomes part of your family. So take that into consideration before getting a pet. Is everyone on board with the idea of having a new family member? Does your little nephew have allergies or is grandpa a fall risk? Such considerations are particularly important if there are babies, young children, and elderly in the household.

Also, remember that your new pet will grow, so ensure your home has adequate space for various reasons. For instance, the Jack Russell Terrier is small but requires space to romp, while the Great Dane can be a giant couch potato. Many people have bought 4-cm terrapins and 8-cm baby alligator gars because they’re cute and fit in a little tank. But long before they reach their maximum length of 30 cm and 2.5 m respectively, many end up being illegally released into the wild.

Heavy Responsibilities

Taking care of a pet requires lots of time and effort. For starters, are you going to feed it commercial kibble, raw food, or prepare a homecooked diet? For dogs, a daily brushing and an occasional shower are also needed. Remember to commit time to training and socialising too. All dogs need a walk outdoors at least once a day. Some breeds require more exercise than others, so do take your own activity levels into account when choosing the right dog for you.

While other pets like cats, rabbit, hamsters, and birds can get their exercise at home, it’s important to provide and engage them with suitable toys and equipment they’ll need for their workouts. More time-consuming but essential chores include feeding, cleaning litter boxes and enclosures. Other things to consider include cat-proofing your windows and bunny-proofing electric cables.

Buy Or Adopt?

If you have considered all the ways a pet will change your life and are confident that you can take on all the responsibilities, it’s time to look at how much getting a pet will cost.

According to this Straits Times article, the demand for puppies started surging after last year’s Circuit Breaker, and the prices have risen with it. For instance, a poodle – one of the most popular choices lately – can go for as much as $11,800, almost three times as much as pre-Covid!

If you just want a pet to love and aren’t too fussy about its age, breed, and pedigree, consider adoption. Many pets are given up after they were bought on impulse, and in recent times, pandemic-induced income loss has forced some pet owners to rehome their beloved companions. Adoption fees start from about $150 for a dog, $80 for a cat, and $20 for rabbits and other small animals at local animal shelters. They may not cost as much, but are no less deserving of a fur-ever home!

Money Matters

Of course, having a pet costs much more than just the initial price tag. Daily expenditure ranges from food to bedding and litter. This may not seem like much, but it does add up over 10 years or more! You may also want to send your pooch to puppy school or for professional grooming sessions.

And no matter how well you care for your pet, you’ll still have to factor in yearly check-ups and vaccinations. If your pet falls sick or gets injured, you may rack up extensive vet fees. Older pets tend to be more prone to illness, so it’s worth considering investing in pet insurance early on.

Post-Pandemic Considerations

A final reminder: this pandemic will not last forever – we hope! As safety management restrictions are gradually lifted, our living and working arrangements may change once again. If you have to return to the office full-time, and leisure travel is once again possible, will you still take time to care for your pet? If your answer is still yes, then we wish you a lifetime of joyful companionship with your new best friend!

Have you recently adopted a pet? Share your experience with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg