Getting a companion dog can help reduce anxiety, ease loneliness, bring comfort, and many other positive outcomes, but a companion dog isn’t for everyone. Even with all the benefits, there are many reasons not to rush to the shelter, or pet store.
Here are 5 things to consider before you arrange to make Fido a part of your life.
- Are you stable on your medications? This may seem like a strange question to consider when you want to add a pet to your life, but for many people when they are not stable on their medications they can experience periods when personal hygiene is difficult. Maybe, getting out of bed is hard. If caring for yourself becomes impossible how will you care for your new companion?
- Do you have the extra money necessary to care for a pet? A trip to the vet with a sick pet can cost hundreds of dollars. Even if your pet is healthy you will still need to buy food, protect them from ticks and fleas, and buy a collar, leash, and other accessories. Adding a pet to your life can be expensive.
- Do you have a place to walk a pet, and a place for them to go poop and pee? Some people set up an area in their house for pets to relieve themselves, but most people have a yard, or take their pets on walks throughout the day. Remember this will become something you must think about every day, in fact, several times a day. It is best to know if you can accommodate a pet’s needs before bringing them into your life.
- Do you work, or have to travel? Dogs are very social beings and they need a lot of attention. If you work, will you arrange for someone to let your dog out, visit with them, and take them for some exercise? If you travel, will you pay the extra expense of having your dog travel with you, or will you pay for your dog to go to a “doggy hotel?”
- Do you have a way to take your dog to the vet? Dogs need shots and check-ups just like people do. Do you have transportation, or will you get the certification so your dog is allowed on public transportation?
Having a dog, a companion that loves you unconditionally, can be beneficial to all people, but especially people with a mental illness, but in order to enjoy the benefits of a furry friend, you need to be aware of how much care, money, and time they actually take. It isn’t fair to bring a dog home only to discover you can’t keep it. If you have considered all these things, and still decide to get a pet – chances are, you’ll be making a new best friend.
Woman with dog photo available from Shutterstock