Similar to having a new baby, adopting a new pet comes with a very overwhelming selection of everything to buy for them. From deciding on the best food (wet food, dry food, raw food), toys, pet insurance, harnesses and collars, and so much more! Often in our excitement at having a new family member, we can get caught up in the “but it’s so cute!” shopping options. It’s fun to pick out the cutest bed, the collars, and toys, but it quickly gets very expensive and when we bring it home and find they don’t like that $20 chew toy, we can give up and stop buying things all together. So my advice? Start out slow and with the necessities.
What do I NEED to buy my new pet, broken down:
Food: It’s best to start feeding them whatever they were eating at the shelter and then slowly switch to a healthier brand. Imagine growing up in Italy and only ever eating Italian food. Then you are moved to China and not only have to get used to the different people and environment but also new food! Eating the food you are familiar with can be such a calming and easy thing to help you (or your pet!) adjust. Many brands offer samples or small packages that you should try out to see if your pet likes it. You can ask your vet or the shelter for good brand recommendations or do some online research. But don’t pick one and expect your pet to like it. They have different likes and tastes just as we do and forcing them to love whatever you buy is simply not a necessary battle to fight. Also, you don’t need to feed them the most expensive brand! However, it’s important to remember, what you feed them, affects how they operate. If you feed them the cheapest brand on the market, you are more likely to lose your beloved pet for health reasons sooner than needed or have to pay expensive vet bills to make them well again. Generally, a mix of dry and wet food is good from a medium-priced brand.
Toys: Ask the shelter or foster parents what they have been playing with! This is a fabulous resource and will save you lots of money on unused toys. Also, when shopping for a toy, often a big mistake is buying something simply because it’s cute! Instead, try thinking, how will my pet use this? Buy only a few in the beginning until you get to know them better. Do they like to chew? Buy chew toys. Do they like to chase? Buy a laser or a ball. Start simple and few and grow the toy basket as you get to know what they like and dislike. This will save you lots of money in the long run!
Collars and harnesses: This one is HARD. Because what you buy greatly depends specifically on the relationship you and your new family member have/want to have. Similar to my answers to the above questions, I recommend not investing in something until you know what you need. Every animal needs a basic collar and leash regardless so that should be your first purchase. Then take them on a few walks and figure out where to go from there. If you have a small dog who likes to wander and you don’t mind this personality/behavior, a retractable leash might be just for you! If you have a medium to big dog and have trouble communicating with them on proper leash etiquette, a harness is probably your best option. Anything that involves force should be researched and thought about very thoroughly. Specifically, pinch and electric collars. Because they are so forceful, it should only be used if all else fails. And even then, I personally don’t recommend it. There’s always a better way.
These are the necessities. Everything else can be slowly decided as you begin to understand your new pet’s personality and what things you both need to make this new relationship work. Don’t feel rushed to have to house full of toys or six different beds around the house for them to use when they walk in the door. Chances are, they will end up sleeping in your closet instead. In the beginning days and weeks, you are discovering what kind of pet owner you want to be. Are you the kind that wants to sleep with their pet every night? If so, you can save and not buy a separate bed for them. If not, buying them a nice, comfortable bed helps to convince them not to sleep in yours. Do they like to climb? Invest in a cat tree. Do they get bored easily? Buy some toys that will keep them occupied for hours. Figuring it out as you go, is the best way to save money, and both end up happy.