Owning a pet can be such a rewarding and joyful experience but providing and caring for your pet takes time; effort and money. Have you ever wondered why so many pets end up at animal shelters? A large proportion of these animals are there because the ‘pet parents’ didn’t do their homework before acquiring the animal. If you are thinking of getting a pet you need to consider a lot before going ahead.
In many ways, pets have the same needs that humans do. They need to eat; drink; have a safe place to stay; a dry place to sleep; someone to provide medical care if required; to be stimulated mentally and physically and to feel loved. Responsible pet ownership starts well before you purchase your pet. Important issues need to be considered and discussed before purchasing.
Before you make your decision, research, research, research. If you have a pet in mind or are looking for ideas, visit the library; look online; talk with breeders and trainers; friends; local council and vets to get the full picture of what it takes to look after your choice of pet. You’ll want to learn about the animals’ temperament; exercise requirements; grooming; suitability for children and possible health problems. Be sure to take into account any allergies you may have and your current and future situation.
Other Key Points to Consider
Can you afford to look after your pet? Not only will you have the initial cost of purchasing your pet you’ll also have ‘set up’ costs and occasional costs associated with buying items such as a kennel; bedding; lead; collar; bowls; grooming equipment; registration; training and desexing. There are also ongoing costs that will have to be covered including supplying appropriate pet food; paying veterinary bills; vaccinations; worming; grooming and pet care providers. Vet bills can be very expensive so many people opt for pet insurance.
- Are you prepared for a long term commitment? Many of the popular pets such as dogs and cats have a life expectancy greater than ten years while horse owners can expect at least twenty.
- Many pets require daily exercise (rain, hail or shine) or they can become destructive and naughty. Will you be up to the task? If you are unable to meet the exercise needs of your pet are you willing to pay a pet carer to assist you?
- Consider how much time you spend at home each day. Many pets don’t cope being left alone for long periods. Again, are you prepared to pay a pet carer to assist you with this?
The dirty stuff
- Who will be responsible for cleaning up after your pet? Yes they all go to the toilet so someone has to clean up after them.
- Cages, kennels, bedding, food and water bowls will need to be cleaned on a regular basis.
- Your pet will require some form of regular grooming which may include bathing, brushing, ear cleaning, nail clipping and teeth cleaning. You can also enlist the help of a pet carer to assist you with these tasks.
Where to buy
Once you’ve done the ground work and made the decision to choose your pet, you need to decide where your pet will come from.
Avoid supporting any pet mills. Pets bred in pet mills don’t receive adequate care and are raised in appalling conditions. The animals often suffer lifelong health and behavioural problems. Always buy your pets from animal rescue organizations such as your local shelter; the RSPCA or a reputable registered breeder.
Animal rescue organizations such as the RSPCA do wonderful work rescuing and re-homing animals. They have many pets in need of new homes but should they not have what you are looking for then your next stop is a reputable breeder.
Your reputable breeder check list should include YOU being able to:
- Meet/view the parents or at least the mother of the pet;
- View a high standard of care and living conditions (including human interaction);
- See happy, healthy pets free of genetic disorders;
- Access to ongoing support and information from the breeder;
- Return the pet for inherited health problems.
- Able to view/speak with referees.
How will you safely transport your pet? No animal should be transported unrestrained in a car. Just like you, your pet should be secure in a car. Harnesses and carriers are just a few options to safely transport your pets. Visit your local pet store to buy the most appropriate option for you and your pet. Remember, NEVER LEAVE A PET UNATTENDED IN A CAR as the extremes in temperature are swift and often fatal.
Be aware of foods that are potentially lethal if given to your pet. Just because it’s not dangerous to you doesn’t mean it’s suitable for your pet. Foods such as sultanas; nuts; grapes; chocolate; onions; tomatoes; cooked bones (and some raw); foods containing Xylitol which is a sweetener found in many foods can all be potentially lethal to dogs and cats.