Owning a pet is one of the most rewarding things you could ever do, but before you get a pet, please consider the following;
NEVER buy a pet as a gift
That baby bunny sure looks cute, but will the person you are giving it to think the same? Owning a pet is a huge commitment that needs a lot of thought. Animals are living, breathing creatures and should never be given as surprise gifts.
Do your research first
Have you thought about how much they cost a year? Expensive vet trips? What they can and cannot eat? How much space/exercise they need? There is so much to consider. Talk to people who own that species, join forums and do as much research as you can first.
Where will you be next year? Are you planning to move abroad? Are you planning to start a family? Work new hours? Where will your pet fit in? Look to the future and think if that will affect your decision. Of course, none of us can be certain what the future holds, but if you are thinking of making a drastic change, it’s probably better to hold off getting a pet until then.
Don’t buy a pet on impulse.
Find a good vet
There are lots of vets up and down the country, but it’s important to use a vet you trust. Talk to other pet owners and see where they go. If you decide on an exotic pet, like an African Pygmy Hedgehog, you will need to go to an exotics vet. Keep in mind that a specialist vet may not be local and will generally be more expensive. Consider insuring your pet as a financial back up if large vet fees are incurred.
Meet the species you are interested in
Have you met that type of pet before? Visit someone who already owns that species and ensure that you are happy to handle them and willing to put in the time for the animal. Another good reason to visit someone who keeps a species you are interested in is to check you aren’t allergic to the animal or their bedding, as this is a common reason why animals find themselves in rescue.
Does everyone in the home want a pet?
Is everyone in the household aware you are getting the pet? Do they want an animal? Everyone in the home should be in agreement as they will be living with the animal too. Be mindful that new animals, especially dogs can take a while to settle into a new home, so all members of the house need to be on the same page to offer consistency and help the dog establish a new routine.
Realise it’s not your child’s responsibility
If you have children, make sure you oversee everything. It is YOUR responsibility to take care of the pet, no matter what. Pets can do wonders for children, however, it is unrealistic to expect a young child to look after an animal on their own. Get the child involved, but make it fun and remember you need to ensure the animal is getting what he or she needs.
If you rent, are you allowed animals?
Have you checked with your landlord that you are allowed to keep animals? Lots of landlords allow animals, however, make sure you double check before taking on an animal as it would be disruptive to the new pet if you have to rehome them, plus a lot of heartache for you both. It’s best to check beforehand.
What about holidays?
Have you thought about what you will do with your pet when you go on holiday and how much it will cost? There are kennels and catteries, but you could also go to a home boarder or have someone visit your pet in your home. Perhaps a family member would be happy to care for them whilst you are away, but whatever option you choose, you should think ahead as boarding facilities do book up quickly, especially in the school holidays.
If you are prepared for an animal, don’t go to a pet shop or a breeder, but go to a rescue! There are so many animals up and down the country in rescues that need a loving home – from young to old, different colours, breed – whatever you are looking for can be found in rescue. Rescue pets aren’t broken, they just need a loving person to give them another chance in life.
Always rescue – read the problem with pet shops here.