As the lockdown continues, more people are considering opening their home to a furry companion. But the latest PAW Report suggests only 21% of owners do the necessary research before taking on a pet. Do you know someone who is unsure about whether a cat or dog is for them? If so, here are five considerations to help them decide.
What do I need to know?
1. Your home
Your pet will need basic supplies like a bed, toys, accessories and food. Do you have the space for them? Even small furries like hamsters will need a quiet room where they can rest undisturbed during the day and play during the night (since they are nocturnal animals). Remember pets shed, drool, and love rolling around in the dirt! At the end of the day, they’re absolutely adorable, but a pet means putting extra effort into keeping your home clean.
2. Your lifestyle
Having a pet changes your routine. Dogs require feeding and walking several times a day and indoor cats will need their litter tray cleaned daily. Walks with your dog will often be on demand, which may require getting up earlier in the mornings and venturing out late in the evenings, sometimes during rain and snow. Is this something you are prepared for?
3. Additional costs
Good-quality food is essential, but also flea and worm treatments, vaccinations, microchipping and at least one yearly visit to the vet. As a rough example, veterinary charity PDSA estimates the minimum monthly cost for owning a dog or cat is £70, followed by £35 for owning a rabbit. Pet insurance can help cover some of those unexpected vet costs, but you'll be required to pay an annual or monthly fee that varies depending on age, medical history and breed.
4. Time and energy
All animals need daily exercise and play to thrive. For dogs, this can range from 30 minutes to two hours depending on their energy levels. And cats are little explorers with a high instinct to chase, scratch and climb. Most importantly, pets need company. And while our feline friends tend to be more independent, many dogs don’t cope well with being alone for any considerable length of time.
You may be spending lots of time at home now, but will you always be around for most of the day? If you're often on the move, you'll need someone to look after your furry pal while you're away: whether it's a friend, family member or a sitter. This, of course, can add to the expense of owning a pet. So while it’s still possible to own a pet and have a busy job, this may be unfair on the animal. After all, pets like being around people (especially their owners!).
Where should I get my pet from?
So you've thought long and hard about welcoming a furry friend into your life and you’ve decided you’re ready. If that’s you, the next step is knowing where to look.
You may have heard about Lucy’s law, new legislation introduced by the government this month. This law aims to protect the welfare of puppies and kittens, helping to put an end to puppy farms by banning sales from third-party sellers like pet shops or commercial dealers. This is great news for all animal lovers, and it means that anyone looking to get a puppy or kitten in England must now buy direct from a breeder or consider adopting from a rescue centre.
We would always recommend adoption as your first option. Animal rescue centres are overflowing with pets of all ages in need of a permanent home, and these animals are not only loving but usually also health-checked, vaccinated and neutered.
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, make sure that it comes from the Kennel Club Assured Breeder list. It also helps to know that most professional breeders will not allow their puppies to go to their new homes until they are twelve weeks old. Although some breeders see eight weeks as a reasonable time in which to leave their mum and offspring. However, those extra four weeks with their mother and littermates can improve the pups’ learning development and socialisation skills. Animals that have been taken from their mothers too soon may have trouble adapting to a new home and could develop behavioural problems.
We think that while the dedication a pet requires is strong, so is the love you will get in return. So if you're sure that pet is for you, congratulations! Here’s to an everlasting friendship.