6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Pet in Your 50s

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Pet in Your 50s

When your kids move out, a new companion can help your house feel full of life, but don’t commit to a furry friend without asking yourself these questions first.

When your kids move out, a new companion can help your house feel full of life, but don’t commit to a furry friend without asking yourself these questions first.

When your children move on to start their own adult lives, your happy home can start to feel quiet – even lacking, at times. A new pet could be the perfect solution: it gives you companionship, a boosted social life and a nice and busy schedule.

In fact, lots of research shows that pet owners are more active and happier, but it’s a big commitment, and one to take seriously. It can change things you now take for granted; last-minute holidays can become tricky, and treasured pieces of furniture can become scratching posts. So here’s everything you need to think about before making your decision.

1. What are your plans for the next 10 years?

Dogs and cats can live for 15 years, sometimes even longer – so think how your life may look in 2030 and decide if you’re going to want a furry friend by your side then. If you’re toying with a grown-up gap year, downsizing to a significantly smaller place or moving abroad, a pet might not fit with your plans.

Think about whether your future home and lifestyle are still going to be pet-friendly. Will you have extra responsibilities, either caring for your parents or your grandchildren? Getting a pet could tie you down, so if you love the freedom your kids growing up has given you, it may not be the right decision either.

On the other hand, rescued senior pets find it harder to find homes for their twilight years, and could be a good option if you’re worried about the work of a kitten or puppy. You could also look at fostering – shelters are full of animals, especially after Christmas, and fostering them till they find ‘forever homes’ is not only nicer for them but also takes the pressure off shelters.

2. Who else is involved (and are they on board)?

You may be 100% committed to the idea of a pet, but is your partner? You need to talk it through openly and honestly. If they’re just nodding and smiling, hoping to help you deal with the fact the kids have moved away – secretly knowing they have a terrible aversion – or they have no intention of helping care for the animal, you need to know!

Never assume your partner feels the same, because if a year down the line you find yourself resentful that you’re paying all the vet’s bills and taking sole responsibility for walking duties, there could be fireworks!

Talk about your concerns, from the additional cleaning and sweeping to the costs involved, so everyone is clear.

3. How will you feel if your house gets trashed?

You can train your pet, of course, but accidents will happen – potentially a lot! Cats love nothing more than using sofas as scratching posts; dogs love to chew shoes; caged animals can give off a certain whiff. And that’s before you even consider the hair they’ll be liberally shedding all over your floors!

Of course, Flash Multi-Surface Concentrated Cleaner is ideal when it comes to cleaning up after your pet. However, if your home, garden or shoe collection is your greatest source of pride, it’s important to think how you’ll feel when they’re covered with hair, puddles or scratches! And do be sure you have enough space for you all to live happily together.

4. What is your daily schedule like?

Pets need a surprising amount of time with their owners, and plenty of affection as well as grooming, play and exercise, so if you’re super-busy, you could run into problems.

Dogs and cats who don’t interact with their owner daily can develop behavioural problems, and if you don’t walk them enough they can get overweight and anxious. If you have a demanding job or social life, a dog will still need walking – come rain or shine.

And if you travel for work, do you have other people who can take care of your pet while you’re away? Remember, dog care involves regularly letting your pooch out to relieve himself, and making sure he’s fed, cleaned, exercised and given companionship.

5. Can you afford it?

While getting a pet from a shelter isn’t expensive in the first place, the costs can easily stack up. Aside from the food and items such as cages, toys, brushes, etc., there’s the cost of pet insurance, vet visits (including recommended jabs) and occasional pet sitters.

If you’re going to be sharing a pet with a partner, make sure you discuss this, and ensure you have the same ideas: do you both think premium pet food is worth the extra? Would you like to take out pet insurance? Discuss everything before committing.

And whatever you do, if you’re not getting a shelter pet, make sure you go to a reputable breeder and see the pet with its mother. Puppy farms, especially dog farms, don’t breed responsibly, so you can end up with terrible and expensive health problems in the animals, which are heartbreaking when you love them so much. Best advice: buy take a pet off the internet or from a shop. If you must have a pedigree, go for a Kennel Club accredited breeder or a Kennel Club Pedigree Rescue.

What do you want from the relationship?

It might sound mad – you’re not dating the dog or cat – but it’s an important consideration. If your expectations are out of whack, you’ll have regrets. Research different types of pet, and then different breeds to check they fit with your needs and lifestyle.

Don’t get a big dog only to find they take over your house, or a tiny dog only to be disappointed you can’t take them for a power walk with you. Make a list of what you’d like to get from your pet so that you’re really clear, then you can find the right match.

Have you got a pet? What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt that you wished you’d known in advance? Share your advice with us in the comments section below.

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Retirement

babyhk 25/01/2018

The last thing I want approaching 60 is a pet .I want freedom to travel - maybe last minute , go to classes and be as active as I have ever been . My sister has 2 cats and finds it difficult trying to get someone to look after them if she wants a break . There is always a slight smell in her home and hairs on furniture . If I want to walk a dog I think there are plenty of owners near me who would be happy if I offered . Kennels can be expensive and upsetting for both pet and owner .

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