Pets make an amazing additions to our lives and with almost half of the households in the UK owning a pet, you will be in good company.
In this day and age, with so much at our fingertips, so much choice, and the ability to purchase things at whim, we can often be drawn into impulse buying even when it comes to deciding on a new pet. It may have a certain look or the 'cute factor' or simply capture our hearts, but when deciding on a family pet we would really encourage you to make it a deliberate and thought out action to match you, your current position in life and your lifestyle with that of the needs of pet. Sometimes our desires do not match our needs.
Think about your Lifestyle and current Life Circumstances:
Are you single, a couple, an expecting family or a family with children of a responsible age? Is anything about to change? What do you want from a pet? How long a pet lives for and how it's nature and characteristics matches in with your situation and needs is very important.
How much time do you have to spend with your pet and what does the animal need in respects to care and affection, exercise and play, grooming and feeding? Do you work long hours or travel often and are there long periods of the day or extended periods you are away and who would be able to care, exercise, groom and feed in your absence? Some pets require a lot of input while others are less dependent on us and can handle periods of solitude.
What is the home environment like? Do you have enough space inside and outside your home for your pet to be comfortable and happy? Some pets need more space in the home and direct access to the outdoors or have nearby parks to exercise in. Other's may need specialised equipment in which to home them and the right conditions for their care.
What sort budget do you have and what ongoing costs can you afford when it comes to owning a pet? It's not just the initial cost of the pet that needs to be considered but also the costs of feeding, grooming, preventative health (vaccinations, health checks, parasite control), pet insurance, and if necessary the cost of dog walking services, pet minding facilities (kennels/cattery) when you are away or the cost of a pet passport and transport if considering taking your pets away with you.
Understanding a pets size, temperament, exercise, feeding and grooming requirements, lifespan, any health and behavioural predispositions different pets and breeds may have and in particular cases, that pet's individual history and issues are all important in making sure they're the right choice for you.
Dogs need companionship, exercise, and space. If you work full time and your home is empty most of the day, then a dog may not be the right choice. It’s important to think about the type of breed that will work best for your family. Different breeds have certain characteristics that can make them the perfect choice for some households and totally unsuited to others. Do some background research on the breed(s) that you are considering to make sure that they are a good fit for you.
Some of the things to think about when deciding whether to have a dog include:
Time: Dogs will want you to spend time with them every day and can quickly become stressed and anxious if you cannot do this. If you cannot realistically spend enough time with your pet, think carefully about getting a dog.
Exercise: All dogs need to be taken on daily walks but some breeds need more exercise than others. Jack Russells are one example of a breed that needs a good deal of exercise to keep them mentally stimulated as well as physically fit.
Training: Unless you are taking on an older dog that is already well trained, you’ll need to be able to spend lots of time to house train and socialise a new dog. Puppies can be very demanding so you’ll need to have a lot of time and patience to train them. If you lead a busy life, a young dog is therefore may not be the best option.
Grooming: Some dogs are high maintenance and require lots of grooming to keep them in good condition.
Breed Characteristics and Predispositions: certain breeds are more prone to certain health conditions, behavioural traits, and will have typically different lifespans. Understanding the breed is important in knowing what you are getting yourself into!The Dog Breed Health website will outline the needs of each type of dog to help you choose one which will suit your lifestyle. It has a great section on rules for selecting a dog and responsibilities of dog owners as a whole.
Cats are solitary animals by nature, and so are more independent than dogs. Most cats manage much better than dogs on their own for extended periods, but they will still need time after work to play and get some mental stimulation, especially if they are indoor cats.
Long haired cats should be groomed very regularly, so these should be avoided if frequent grooming is not practical.
Environment: Would a cat have access to outdoor areas or would your home require them to be an indoor-only pet? Cats are more sedentary than dogs but will still prefer to have the freedom to roam outdoors.
Personality: Some cats are more docile while others are more talkative and affectionate so a lot will depend on the type of personality that you’d like your cat to have.
Breed: researching information on particular breeds you may be interested in is important in knowing and typical breed characteristics in terms of their nature and personalities, behavioural traits and any particular breeds predispositions they may have to health or behavioural issues.
Small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils and rats are often seen as being a great option for children but this is not necessarily true. Many small furries have short life spans so this must also be considered.
Sleeping Habits: Hamsters are nocturnal and will be asleep when children are awake (and vice versa). This means that they will not be wanting to play or be active during the day and can therefore be disappointing for children.
Being Handled: Gerbils and mice can be extremely quick to dart off, and can be difficult for children to handle easily without being over zealous. Rabbits are not always keen on being cuddled unless well handled when young. Rats can be social pets though and are usually receptive to being picked up and handled.
Diet: Rabbits require a particular well-maintained diet due to their digestive systems and many health and dental issues are linked with diet.
Rats, Mice, Gerbils and Hamsters all make good pets if they are handled from the time they open their eyes. Rats live 4-6 years; mice 2-3 years. They are economical to buy and maintain and can be quite affectionate. They do have a rather strong odor –especially if their cages are not cleaned frequently enough.
If you need any help, advice or just a chat about what pet would be best for you, feel free to call us on 0203 603 4441, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.