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Owning a pet can be time-consuming and life-changing, but the changes are far more positive than negative. For people with depression or anxiety or in addiction recovery, a companion animal can ease stress and loneliness, along with a myriad of other benefits. The comfort of a pet can override the need to want to use drugs or alcohol, thus, helping prevent relapse. Before you start searching for an emotional support animal, here are some important things to think about.
Adopt, Don’t Shop
It might be tempting to ask how much that doggy in the window is, but you should think twice before purchasing from a store. With so many strays, rescues, and owner-surrendered animals awaiting a good home, there’s no reason to opt for buying over adoption. An acceptable excuse for shopping instead of adopting is if an animal that can only be purchased at a store.
Puppies and kittens aren’t the only animals looking for their forever home! Consider an older or special needs pet. Although they may require a little extra care and attention, the love they have to share is worth every minute!
Choose Your Pet Wisely
Not everyone is a dog person, and not everyone is a cat person. So instead of defaulting to the dog vs. cat debate, consider the many options out there. If you want something furry but easily contained, you can opt for a bunny. They’re loveable, cuddly, and bigger than some Chihuahuas. Maybe a bird is right for you or a hamster or bearded dragon. Whatever pet you choose, make sure they’re the right fit for your home and life circumstances. A busy person who lives in a small apartment might not be the right owner for a dog, but a cat or other small animal could be a great fit.
Know What Fits in Your Home
Maybe you’ve decided that you do want a dog. What kind of dog should you adopt? Your breed should be selected based on your individual needs and the type of care you can provide. A large dog is better suited for a home with a yard, but a small dog can easily get enough exercise and space to roam in an apartment. People with allergies should avoid dogs that shed and, instead, stick to hypoallergenic dogs like poodles. Even then, you need to take steps to help reduce the amount of pet hair, fur, and dander inside your home.
Give Your Pet a Warm Welcome
Your new pet is about to come home, so what can you do to make sure he feels warm and welcome? For starters, have all his bowls, toys, and beds ready so he can move right in. You’ll also need to pay special attention to his diet and choose a healthy brand of food. For example, many dog owners find that a dog food high in fiber promotes good digestion so your pup won’t gain weight.
Your pet will need some time to acclimate to the new environment and get comfortable living with you, especially if he’s fearful or nervous, as many rescue animals are. Give him the space needed and don’t rush the bonding process. Once your pet is comfortable and settled, you’ll quickly become his favorite person.
If your new pet has special needs, you’ll need to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. A vet can help you find solutions to address your pet’s needs. Make sure to also research potential home modifications you may need to complete so your pet can live safely and comfortably.
Find Ways to Bond
Pets are not only there for your comfort. You should be putting in as much love as you’re expecting to get in return. Spend quality time with your pet every day, at home and outside. Taking your new furry friend on adventures will not only form a bond between you, but it will also help socialize him and introduce him to new environments. The exercise is a great perk for both of you. Hiking or camping with your dog will make him a happy pet, and the car ride home will feel like the best time of his life. For those in addiction recovery, the adventure can be beneficial to you, too. Exercise, adrenaline, nature, and new experiences can all bring positive feelings.
Pet ownership is a big responsibility for the right person. For a person who needs emotional support, it can be a lifesaver. You may need to make some adjustments, but you also will be getting more unconditional love and affection than you ever thought possible.