January 2, 2023


Are You Prepared for a New Pet?

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

Adding a new pet, whether furry, feathered, or scaled can be an exciting time!  It’s funnew pet rabbit to look for the pet with the most smoochable face, the softest coat, or the most beautiful eyes. Then, you get to pick a new name for your forever friend! One of my favorite things is shopping for all the cute collars, beds, toys, and treats. 

While adding an animal family member is super exciting, it is important to do your research first.  Make sure you are prepared for your new animal friend.

Preventative Care

To help keep all animal family members healthy and happy, they must go to the vet for preventative care and exams. We go to the doctor for our exams, and our pets need to do that, too.  This gets your pet started on the right foot with proper care and vaccines.

At these vet visits, the doctor can also give you information on how to help keep your pet healthy. You can discuss the proper diet for your pet as well as breed-specific illnesses to watch for.  Be sure to budget for vet visits, vaccines, and preventative medicines or supplements. All of these things are vital to your pet’s health.

Get established with a veterinarian right away. Having a vet you know and are comfortable with can make it less stressful for you when a health problem occurs. Additionally, your vet can identify illnesses in the early stages when they are easier and less costly to treat.

Special Needs for Exotic Speciesnew pet bearded dragon

Many exotic animals (including birds, reptiles, guinea pigs, etc.) have very specific conditions to help keep them healthy.  Some animals need precise temperature, humidity, and lighting to help keep them healthy. Research the type of animal you are interested in before adopting it to see if you can manage the care requirements. 

  • Can you find a reliable source of frozen mice to feed a snake?
  • Can you find a pet store with the right type of hay to feed your rabbit?
  • Do you have enough space for a proper enclosure?

 Make sure you know what you need to properly care for an exotic animal.

Exercise Needs

Your new pet will need some sort of activity and exercise. That activity may be taking a walk, playing with toys or laser pointers, running on an exercise wheel, or slithering through the enclosure.  Just like with humans, keeping active can help a pet with both physical health and mental health. 

If you are unable or unlikely to take a dog on long walks, look for a pet with exercise needs that are better suited to your lifestyle. If you need your beauty sleep, a nocturnal animal running on a wheel all night might not be the pet for you.

Maintenance Care

Animals need more than just love and cuddles.  In addition to preventative wellness care, many animals require routine maintenance such as nail trims and grooming.  Did you know that even pet turtles may need their nails trimmed? 

With proper training, you may be able to do some of the maintenance care yourself. You may be able to brush your pet’s teeth, trim his nails, and clean his ears. However, if your pet is difficult to handle or you feel uneasy, you may want some help from your veterinarian or groomer.

Prepare for the unexpectednew pet surgery

While we all try to plan ahead, there are things in life that cannot be predicted. At some point, your pet will:

  • break a toenail or a tooth
  • develop a lump
  • stop eating
  • start vomiting
  • become lethargic
  • start limping
  • have an allergic reaction

Make sure that you have a budget for these unexpected events. You will reduce your stress level knowing you can care for your pet when the need arises.


While this seems like an obvious point, animals require your time.  And, some pets may require more time than others.  Please keep in mind, this involves more than just cuddle time. 

You need to make time to exercise your pet, clean your pet’s habitat, groom your pet, bond with your pet, and more.  If you are a busy person and taking daily walks is not an option, a high-energy dog may not be the right fit for you (even if it is the cutest dog you’ve ever seen!).

Vacationingnew pet boarding

Taking that well-needed break away from home, work, and responsibilities can be truly magical!  But what about your furry, feathered, or scaled friend?  Sometimes, you can take your pet with you on vacation. However, what will you do if that’s not an option?

Check out boarding facilities and pet sitters. Find someone you can trust with your pet. That way, when you do need to leave town, you know your pet will be in good hands.  Be advised, boarding facilities and pet sitters can book up early over holidays, so plan ahead!

I would never want to be without a furry family member. I can understand your desire to have a new pet. Plan ahead, do your research, and be realistic. While your lifestyle may not allow you to have certain types of pets, there are lots of different animals that may suit you better. There’s always room for love with an animal friend, as long as you are prepared!

Dr. HeintzDr. Heintz is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. Her passion is helping all animals, whether furry, scaly, or feathered, lead long and healthy lives.