5 things to do before bringing home a pet

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

If you've always wanted a pet, you're definitely not alone. Over two-thirds of U.S. households have companion animals, according to the American Pet Products Association. But do you know how to be a responsible pet owner? Before you bring home Fluffy or Mr. Whiskers, you'll want to make sure your house and your family are ready for the new arrival. These tips may help you make the leap to pet ownership.

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1. Follow local rules and regulations

Many municipalities and rental units have rules or regulations regarding pets. Does yours? To help ensure you're not violating any local laws, find out what restrictions are in place in your town and subdivision before you add a new pet to your family. For example, the city of St. Louis, Missouri, limits the number of pets allowed per parcel of residential property (no more than four), and while cats, dogs and even chickens are permitted as pets, lions, tigers and bears are among the animals that are not allowed. Pet owners renting a home or living in a homeowners' association will typically need to follow the rules specified in the contract, too.

2. Find a veterinarian

From routine checkups to emergency care, having the contact information of a reliable veterinarian in your smartphone can be part of being a responsible pet owner. To get started, take a look at the list of accredited veterinary offices in your area from American Animal Hospital Association. You may also want to ask for a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, animal shelter worker, dog trainer, groomer, boarding kennel employee or pet sitter, says PetMD.

3. Do your homework

Whether your new pet is your first pet or will join other animals in your home, spend some time researching the breed and its quirks with online resources like the American Kennel Club's website so you know what to expect. Breed-specific clubs are another resource that can give you tips regarding veterinarians in the area and where to purchase pet supplies. For example, the Boston Terrier Club of America can help you find reputable breeders and health information, among other breed-specific information.

4. Share pet-related tasks

If your household includes your family members or roommates in addition to your pet, then it may be helpful to clearly detail who's taking care of which pet-related tasks. Consider all the tasks and care specific to your pet. For instance, dog owners will need to walk their canine friend, check for fleas and ticks regularly, clean up after him every day and bathe him now and then, as noted by American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Even younger children can help with pet-related tasks. Children as young as 3 years old may be able to help feed and groom a pet with parental supervision, according to Parents.com, while older children may be able to walk a dog and give your pet a bath.

5. Roll out the red carpet for fluffy's arrival

Before your pet sets a paw, claw, fin or foot inside your home, you'll likely want to do a once-over of your home and check for hazards. There may be items in your home that could be dangerous to pets, such as that screen that seems a little loose. Those pretty potted aloe vera plants could also potentially be hazardous to your pet, says the ASPCA, so you'll need to make a few changes to your home so your pet can be safe. You may want to do some shopping before your pet's arrival, too. Cat owners, for example, will need to have the appropriate toys, litter boxes, scratching supplies and food for their feline friends. Additional tips on the right types of supplies for cats can be found via The Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

With some simple preparation, your home and your family can be ready for your new pet's arrival and make the transition a smoother one for everyone.