With 93% of pet owners saying that owning an animal makes them happy*, it’s no wonder that more and more people are itching to get a pet.
Getting a pet can seem like such an exciting idea that it can often be easy to overlook the responsibilities and costs which ultimately come with owning an animal, and unfortunately this can lead to cats and dogs ending up at a shelter like ours when the realities have sunk in.
In 2015 a whopping 5 million people did no research at all before getting a pet*, so this year we want to make sure potential pet owners understand what’s really involved in being a responsible pet owner.
We’ve made a responsible pet checklist which you can use to help decide if you’re ready for your first pet. Give this a read, print off our checklist and check that you’re pet ready before starting your exciting adventure to find your new best friend.
When you adopt a pet you’re committed to caring for it for its entire life, and if you get a cat or dog when they’re young this can be for an average of 15 years!
You and your family should be in complete agreement that you are committed to loving your pet for life. If you’re considering getting a pet you should also think about where and what you’ll be doing in 2025 – what are the chances of you moving house? Or your hours changing at work? If your situation is likely to change make sure that you have a solid plan of who will be your next care provider for your pet before committing.
In 2015 12% of pet owners admitted that they thought their pet would only cost £500 over their entire lifetime,* whilst actually a cat can cost £17,000 over a lifetime and a dog can cost anything between £16,000 and £32,000 depending on the breed or size of the pooch.
The main thing to consider when getting a pet is whether you can afford the basics (food, bedding, toys, carrier/crate, vaccinations, micro-chipping, neutering, flea and worming treatments, grooming and dental care) and then consider whether you would be able to cover emergency costs and insurance.
Taking on a pet can be a big commitment time-wise – socialising, exercising, training, play time, taking your pet to the vets and cleaning can take more time than you think.
Though cats are fairly independent, you still need to make sure that you have enough time to bring up a cat in the right way without forcing it to become self-dependent, especially with kittens.
Having a dog will be a much bigger time commitment, as they need at least 1 to 2 hours of exercise every day and should not be left alone for more than 4 hours, and if you get a puppy you will need to commit to constant training throughout the day.
Unfortunately your cat or dog will probably become sick or need to go to the vets at some point during their lives, and you should factor in whether you will be able to cover emergency vet costs when you get a pet. Vet costs can vary depending on what’s wrong with your pet and which vet practice you choose, but a consultation appointment alone can cost between £10 to £35.
It’s a good idea to also invest in pet insurance in case any serious emergencies occur, as this can help pay for the expensive vet fees. On average dog insurance can cost about £300 a year and cat insurance can cost between £5 and £20 a month.
Whilst you’re thinking about getting a pet you will need to make sure that you will be able to care for the animal properly and provide it with the 5 Key Welfare Needs:
Before you get a pet you should consider whether your home is an appropriate environment for an animal to live in – will your pet have enough space to relax and play in? If you don’t have an outdoor space, will you be able to take your dog on daily walks or provide your cat with enough stimulation?
When choosing a pet try to select one based on personality rather than looks. For example, think about whether you’d prefer an active dog to go jogging with or a calm dog to share a more sedentary life.
Make sure you consider the extra house work which is involved with owning a pet and if you’re house proud think about the amount of hair certain breeds of cat and dog can shed.
If you enjoy your holidays, you’ll need to make sure you can arrange for suitable care whilst you’re away or can afford a cattery or kennels. On average, catteries can cost between £5 to £30 a night depending on the facilities, and kennels can cost about £140 a week to board your dog.
If you do already own a pet you should think carefully about whether it’s a good idea to introduce a new animal, and if you’re not sure then seek advice from your vet or a professional animal behaviourist.
Typically dogs are pack animals and do tend to do well living with other animals, though they would need to be a suitable fit. You should always introduce the dogs in neutral territory, for example your local park.
If you have an older cat think about whether it’s fair to introduce a new kitten to the household as some cats prefer to have you all to themselves. If you are thinking about getting a pair of cats it generally does make sense to adopt two cats from the same litter.
Use our checklist below to get ticking and check that you can be a responsible pet owner!
[link type=”primary” text=”You can download our printable checklist here” url=”https://www.themayhew.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/pet-checklist-print-version.pdf”]
Are you pet ready? Why not give a pet a second chance and adopt?! Take a look at our amazing cats and dogs up for adoption. You can also find out more about our Vet Clinic which provides low cost neutering and vaccinations.
*PDSA Paw Report 2015
First picture courtesy of Rowan Williams and Bonnie Baker.
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