What do I need to think about before getting a pet?
There are two things to think about:
- Do you have the right LIFESTYLE?
- Can you give it the right WELFARE?
PLACE: How suitable is your place for a pet?
Do you have a garden or live near a local park? It’s important as almost all pets need space to run around and play.
- A large garden is suitable for a cat – or a small, medium or large dog.
- A small garden is suitable for a guinea pig, rabbit, cat or small dog.
- If you don’t have a garden, a smaller pet may be more suitable. Think about getting a “small furry” such as a hamster, rat, mouse, gerbil; or you may prefer fish or birds.
EXERCISE: How much exercise could you give your pet?
You may be looking forward to long walks with your new pet, in which case a dog might be suitable. If you’re not very active, a smaller pet may be a better choice.
- Enjoy long walks, whatever the weather? Then a dog (small, medium or large) would be the ideal choice of pet for you.
- Prefer shorter walks and enjoy playing with a pet? Then consider a small dog or a cat.
- Not very active? Then think about a smaller pet – a “small furry” such as a guinea pig, rabbit, chinchilla, ferret, hamster, rat, mouse, gerbil, fish or a bird could be ideal
- PDSA Top Tip: Give them lots of toys to keep them active and entertained. Pets of all sizes and species always need toys to play with.
TIME: How much time could you spend with your pet?
Pets take up more time than you may first have thought: daily exercise, training, play time, visits to the vet, grooming, cleaning their home and companionship. Think about how much time you can devote to your pet...
- If you have lots of time, a small, medium or large dog would be perfect: they are very social animals that love company.
- If you can give quite a lot of time – and the pet wouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours, then a cat or dog would be an ideal companion.
- If you can’t devote much time to your pet, a smaller pet may be more suitable. Think about getting a “small furry” e.g. a guinea pig, rabbit, chinchilla, ferret, hamster, rat, mouse, gerbil, fish or a bird.
- PDSA Top Tip: Many animals are sociable and need company from their own species. Visit our Pet Health pages to see which animals need a companion.
SPEND: Can you afford the lifetime costs of your preferred pet?
Owning a pet is a significant financial commitment – it can be up to about £31,000. Food, bedding, vaccinations – and flea and worm treatments all need budgeting for. Owners also need to consider taking out pet insurance. The lifetime costs of a pet can vary, but a cat can cost about £12,000, a medium sized dog can cost around £20,000 – and up to £31,000 for a large dog.
- Looking to spend around £125-£170 per month (£2000 per year)? Then a cat or small, medium or large dog would be a suitable pet.
- Looking to spend around £80- £124 per month (£1,500 per year)? Then a cat, small dog, or a smaller pet, e.g. a rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla or ferret would be a suitable pet.
- Looking to spend around £20-£79 per month (£1,000 per year)? Then a “small furry”, e.g. a hamster, rat, mouse, gerbil, fish or a bird would be a suitable pet.
You need to know the welfare needs of the pet you are thinking of getting. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 introduced a ‘duty of care’ for all pet owners: this lists Five Welfare Needs that are essential for every pet’s health and happiness, which you must provide for your pets by law:
What next? When you have an idea of which pet suits your lifestyle, visit our Pet Health pages for more information on the Five Welfare Needs and how to provide for these for your chosen pet.