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Posted By: Greg - Vet

Before you get a pet

Pets can give us so much; by way of support, attention and affection, and it is really important that we as owners are able to give everything they need back to them. This might seem obvious, but once thought about, the list of an animal’s requirements can be long and easily forgotten in the amazing excitement of choosing a first pet.

Hindsight is too late once a pet has been welcomed into the family, and a new owner might realise things about their pet and its needs that they hadn’t considered when first looking around for a perfect companion. It is our job within veterinary practice to make prospective owners aware (but not terrified!) about the potential challenges, costs and demands a pet can bring on an owner so that the animal can live a healthy and happy life in their forever home.

Whatever size of animal you are thinking of getting, space is needed – to exercise, to combat boredom and to achieve comfort. This may mean the right enclosure, garden or even house for your chosen pet. For example, rabbits should not just be kept in a hutch and dogs need regular access to a secure outside area; would your apartment suit an Irish wolfhound’s lifestyle?

Any animal requires your time (often a lot!); time to spend with and bond, time to groom and feed, or time to exercise. Will you have time to walk a potential Labrador twice a day, and how will that German Shepherd cope when left alone for long periods of the working day? The amount of time can be very variable depending on the animal so it is well worth researching thoroughly.

Speaking of research, any pet should be studied in depth before bringing home; not only the species but the breed as well, as there can be big differences in the best exercise, diet and health care needed. Will the type of dog you’re thinking of bringing home get along with the cat that’s already there? There are lots of good books and reliable web sources (some links below) which can help to fuel your quest for knowledge in your budding pet ownership!

And with all of these things often inevitably comes cost; not only diets, bedding, housing and toys , but especially health care;  all of these crucial requirements will not come cheap. Many owners can underestimate the cost of their pets over their lifetime. Responsible pet ownership (depending on species), can involve neutering, vaccination, microchipping, parasite treatment, and of course routine and emergency veterinary treatment. What if the worst were to happen and that cat you had wanted came hobbling in one evening with a broken leg?

Every one of these requirements should be considered and plans put in place in the event of your little furry one’s arrival, to make sure that you have the best time together possible. The festive season is a very popular time of year for families to adopt, so before you get caught up in the wonderful joy that pet ownership can bring, take some time to research and make a fully informed decision. For more information and if you are thinking of getting an animal that is new to you in the near future, you can visit one of the following links or contact your veterinary practice for advice.

http://icatcare.org/advice/getting-cat/thinking-getting-cat

https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/choosing-a-pet

https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/factsheets-downloads/factsheetaffordingtokeepyourdog.pdf

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