Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.


Before deciding to obtain a pet:

  • Be aware that many dogs and cats are stolen for research or for animal fights small animals are used to train larger animals
  • Be aware that some people are allergic to some pets, especially pets with fur or feathers, and may be uncomfortable visiting your residence
  • Consider the possibility that your pet might bother neighbors, e.g., noise, droppings
  • Consider getting a smaller pet first, e.g., a hamster
  • Consider taking care of someone else's pet first to get a feel for what's involved
  • Consider whether a pet would be at danger from wild animals, e.g., coyotes
  • Consider whether your residence is well-suited for the type of pet you're considering, e.g., room for dogs to run around, no small places for hamsters to hide in
  • Be aware that many pets often carry fleas which live in carpets, etc.

Before deciding whether to get a specific pet:

  • Determine how good the pet will be with children
  • Determine how loud the pet is likely to be
  • Determine if the pet is pure bred
  • Determine if the pet has any papers verifying breeding, vaccinations, etc.
  • Determine if the pet is sick, or has been sick
  • Have the pet checked by a vet

After obtaining a pet:

  • Have pet spayed/neutered it will make them less likely to roam, thereby reducing risk of getting lost or stolen
  • Have a microchip inserted under the skin and/or have your pet tattooed—most researchers check for these before using an animal for research
  • Consider pet health insurance—the average annual cost of vet care (routine and otherwise) for a dog is $160


  • Keep teeth clean with brushing (use toothpaste designed for your pet and consider using a finger toothbrush), sprays, chewable pills, hard food and/or chewable toys
  • Clean ears with cotton balls, etc. (avoid cleaning ears with cotton swabs) approx. every 1-2 weeks swabs can push wax, etc. further into the ear canal
  • Use a shampoo designed for your type pet


If you are bitten by someone's pet:

  • Report it to authorities, e.g., animal control to force negligent owners to control, and perhaps train, their pet

If you become aware of a pet owner who does not properly control their pet and the pet poses a hazard to others:

  • Report them to authorities, e.g., animal control to force the owner to control their pet

If you can no longer care for your pet:

  • Don't give it away free to a stranger (charge something) they might sell it for research (dogs and cats have organs similar to humans)
  • Check with an animal shelter

Death of a pet:

  • Some areas prohibit backyard burials
  • Vet should give you alternatives, e.g., cremation ($100-200), cemetery burial ($600-10,000)
  • Use similar procedures as you would for a human funeral
  • Insist on viewing your pet before it is buried
  • Ensure cemetery has necessary funds to stay in business


  • Ensure your pet is actually cremated (e.g., not just dumped into open pit)
  • Ensure the ashes you get back are those of your pet


  • Get a contract which includes:

    • Exact location of burial
    • Your rights and responsibilities regarding maintenance of the plot


If you're considering leaving your pet at a kennel, etc.:

  • Call American Boarding Kennels Association (719) 591-1113
  • Visit the recommended kennel(s) to check for:

    • Adequate space
    • Cleanliness
    • Staff interested in your pet
    • Ventilation
    • Are they willing to use your pet's personal bedding, toys, food, etc.?

Pet sitters:

If you're considering using a pet-sitter:

  • Seek referrals, e.g., call National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, (800) 296-7387

For prospective pet-sitters:

  • Determine if they will:

    • Walk pet
    • Play with pet
    • Take in mail, newspapers, etc.
    • Turn lights on and off
    • Stay overnight
  • Ask for proof of bonding and insurance

  • Check references

Transporting a pet:

If you're considering taking a pet with you:

  • Consider not taking your pet and having it cared for by a pet sitter, kennel, etc. (see Pet sitters, Kennels)

If you decide to transport your pet:

  • Ensure your pet is not:

    • Pregnant
    • Frail
    • Too young
    • Sick
  • Be aware that cats tend to get confused and lost on trips

  • Obtain copy of medical records for emergencies and crossing borders

  • Seek advice from a vet

  • Ensure all hotels, etc. at which you might stay will allow pets

  • Put an ID tag on your pet

If you're considering flying your pet:

  • Check the policies of the airline(s) for travelling pets
  • Beware that airline flights can be fatal for pets which fly in the baggage compartment
  • You can usually take your pet in the cabin with you if it will fit in a carrier which will fit under the seat

If your pet will be flying in the baggage compartment and/or unaccompanied:

  • Get a non-stop flight to reduce the risk of death from overheating during loading or unloading
  • Get an evening flight to avoid the hottest time of day

Leave Feedback