Consumer Reports: Advice for 1st time COVID-19 pandemic pet parents

Many of us are finding new ways to occupy our time these days -- puzzles, baking, maybe online yoga classes and many have added a new member to their household for some companionship on four legs.

But with a new pet comes new responsibilities, which is why Consumer Reports has some advice for those first time pet parents out there!

When the pandemic hit, Lisa Ricker who works at the ASPCA saw something remarkable.

"The nice part of that sort of lull period when everything was closed was that some of our hardest dogs who had been at the shelter for years got adopted," Ricker said.

While the pandemic is keeping many families and friends apart, it's ironically united pets of all kinds to new homes.

If you're thinking about taking the plunge to welcome a new pet into your home, keep in mind it's not all fun and games.

"They need exercise, they need enrichment, they need basic training so that they can be a good member of the household," Ricker said.

And of course pets don't come cheap. Plan on spending money for food, vet visits, grooming, and more.

For example, In just the first year, dog owners will spend an average of 1,459-dollars. And cat owners will shell out 1,174-dollars.

To help reduce expenses, look for ways to save--Online food subscriptions can save about 5-percent, and ask about loyalty programs at locally owned pet stores.

When it comes to the vet, pet insurance might help, but know what it covers, and what it doesn't before you enroll.

"When Consumer Reports compared pet insurance coverage for a cat and a dog, it found that the cost could be worth it if your pet contracts a serious illness," said Kevin Doyle with Consumer Reports. "But, like people insurance, pet insurance plans can be complicated and come with deductibles, copays, and premiums."

Finally, it's important to prepare yourself and your pet for a post-pandemic life.

"You're gonna start to go back to work, and your dog still wants your attention, but you have to think a little bit about what your life will be like and not necessarily what your life is like during Covid," Ricker said.

That could mean hiring a dog walker or paying for doggie daycare, which can be yet another added expense.

You can help your pet adjust to a new routine, by gradually beginning to mimic what your pet's schedule will look like on a typical work or school day, like spending a few hours at a time in a separate room.

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