happy family playing with a small black dog at home

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Pet: 8 Things to Consider

Thinking of adopting a dog or cat? It’s smart first to weigh the costs and benefits of owning a pet.

We often get so excited about the prospect of having a pet that we forget the important factors to consider beforehand. If you are considering adding a new pet to your family, it could be helpful first to read over the following list of pros and cons of adopting a pet.

1. Con: More Living Expenses

As a dependent, a pet will add to your living expenses. When getting a pet, there are the initial costs like a bed, a crate, grooming items, a collar, a leash, a litter box, a scratching post, and other miscellaneous things needed immediately upon adoption. Then there are recurring expenses, such as the cost of food, treats, and toys. Plus, don’t forget about the up-front adoption fees.

It’s additionally important to factor in grooming costs. If you choose to do your pet’s grooming yourself, you will most likely need to purchase items such as a brush or comb, scissors, nail clippers, ear cleaning solution, pet-friendly shampoo, and conditioner. Another option is to have your pet professionally groomed, which will still be a monthly or bi-monthly expense.

Before welcoming a new pet into your home, you may also need to spend some money on pet-proofing your home. This could include purchasing gates, a fence, or bins to store toxic items safely. However, even with pet-proofing, it’s almost inevitable that some of your belongings could end up chewed or scratched. This is an additional cost that many pet owners may not initially expect.

For the pet parents who are renting, they will also need to factor in the costs of pet rent—a reoccurring monthly fee that could cost more if you have multiple pets or a large breed dog. In addition to pet rent, many rental properties also charge a pet deposit fee, which may not always be reimbursed.

2. Pro: Unconditional Love and Companionship

Pets love us unconditionally, and that’s priceless. There’s nothing like coming home every day to a four-legged family member who’s thrilled to see you.

It’s also difficult to put a price tag on their constant companionship. A pet is someone to snuggle with, take walks with, accompany you on car rides, or hang with on the couch. Not to mention, the companionship of a pet can improve your mental health and overall well-being.

Pet parents have repeatedly noted that, with a pet around, they have decreased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Not only do cats and dogs help with our mental health, but they can also help us improve our physical health. When it comes to providing daily exercise to our pets, pet parents can also exercise right alongside their pals.

Besides providing unconditional love and companionship, pets can also give people a sense of purpose and responsibility. They can even help people learn valuable lessons in patience and understanding.

young brunette woman walking in the woods with a ginger cat in a plaid bandana on her shoulder

3. Con: Care When You’re Away

If you are gone for an extended period of time, you may need to find a sitter, boarder, or doggie daycare—all of which are an added expense.

Having a dog or cat can also put time constraints on your outings—you will need to return home to make sure your pal is fed, let outside (if you have a dog), and checked on regularly.

Many peoples’ jobs or lifestyles are not built around having a pet, so it may be necessary to make a lifestyle change. For instance, if you often work overtime or 12-hour shifts, then now may not be the ideal time to welcome an animal into your home. It’s also important to consider how often you travel and how many days a week you go out to restaurants, bars, concerts, etc.

It’s important to ask yourself if you would be willing to change your lifestyle or start making your vacations and outings pet-friendly.

4. Pro: Home Safety

Vocal pets can alert you to strangers or possible suspicious activity outside your home, providing some added security. If you live alone, having the company of a four-legged friend is also an added comfort. By doing some research beforehand, you can even select a dog breed based on their watching, guarding, and alerting abilities.

Most impressively, cats and dogs have even been able to detect fires and gas leaks in a home. Not only this, but many of these animals are even then able to alert their owners that there is a situation occurring within the home.

5. Con: Time Consumption

Some cats and dogs might be pretty independent, but they still require your time for feeding, training, exercising, and grooming. A more dependent breed or a strongly attached pet could require even more of your attention. Bringing an animal into your family is almost like bringing a child into the equation.

It’s essential to do breed research before adopting. This will allow you to have a better understanding of what your pet will need attention-wise. Not to mention, some pets are overall more maintenance in the grooming and training departments as well.

Along with the breed, it’s also worthwhile to consider the age. Although many people may think they want to adopt a puppy or kitten, they may severely misjudge just how much work a young animal can be.

You may find that cleaning up after your pet and keeping your home tidy with an animal around can be quite time-consuming. Whether it is out in the grass or in the litter box, pet waste is a necessary chore that all pet parents must deal with. Plus, both cats and dogs will inevitably make messes indoors—especially if you have a breed that sheds a lot. With a pet around, upkeep on your home could include sweeping, mopping, and dusting more often.

Although not occurring as often, you may also need to take time off work to attend to your pet when they’re sick, injured, or need to visit their veterinarian.

While some of the short-term commitments of owning a pet may seem apparent, some people may not consider the long-term commitment that comes with bringing a pet into the family. Most cats and dogs can have an average lifespan of anywhere from 10-18 years—some cats can even live into their 20s. This means that whenever you adopt that adorable little kitten or puppy, you are agreeing to and signing up for at least a 10-year commitment.

man with curly hair playing with a large dog while having drinks with friends

6. Pro: Built-In Icebreaker

Pets are usually not afraid to be the first to say hello. This can be to your advantage if striking up a conversation isn’t one of your strong suits. Being out and about with your pet could make it easier to meet your neighbors and other new people.

Even when your pet isn’t around, they can still make for a wonderful conversation starter or topic in general. The topic of “pets” is fairly universal, and it’s something that many people can relate to. It’s a subject matter that people feel comfortable discussing with others.

Although some opportunities to socialize with your cat exist, if you have a dog, there are even more possibilities for you to get out and meet people together. The number of dog parks and dog-friendly restaurants continues to grow every year, and you may be surprised by how many outing options are now available.

7. Con: Health Care Costs

There is always the chance that your pet could get hurt or sick, and veterinary treatment can be expensive. You also need to plan for annual exam fees and the cost of preventive care, like vaccines and spaying or neutering.

Besides routine veterinarian care, there’s also the chance that you will have to pay for emergency care at some point in your pet’s life. These unexpected costs can often be the most expensive, so it’s essential to have a pet savings account or have your pet signed up for pet health insurance.

Another item to consider is the added cost that will arise if your pet develops a health condition. For instance, if your dog or cat is diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, it will be necessary to pay for medication and treatment for the rest of your pet’s life.

8. Pro: Someone to Nurture

It feels good to return the unconditional love that dogs and cats give, and many pet parents truly enjoy being able to nurture and spoil their pets in return. If you don’t have any human children but are considering them one day, making a four-legged addition to your family could even provide some practice in caring for a dependent. Not to mention, pet parenting can be rewarding and enjoyable for those who don’t want any children of their own.

If you do have children, a pet could be an excellent addition to your family—you may even be surprised how quickly your kids and pets become best friends. An added benefit of introducing an animal to your children is that it provides a great opportunity for them to learn about the responsibilities and rewards that come with having a pet.

Another added benefit is that when you choose to rescue a cat or dog who needs a home, you are also providing a loving home to an animal in need.