Choosing the right pet for you

Pets bring us a tremendous amount of pleasure and joy. However, owning any animal is a big responsibility and should be viewed as a long term commitment for the lifetime of the pet. This means that potential pet owners should take into account that a pet could live 15 years or more and, as peoples’ situations change, careful thought should be given as to possible changes in your personal circumstances and whether or not your lifestyle will still be pet friendly over time.

Some points to consider to help you before making a decision are listed below:

  • Your lifestyle - your pet will need to fit in with you, your family and your lifestyle. If you do not enjoy exercising and going for long walks or you cannot go for long walks perhaps due to ill health, then a husky or a working collie is really not for you. A cat may be ideal.
  • Do you have time for a pet? - Most dogs will need two walks a day as a minimum totalling at least 1 hours exercise per day. Be honest with yourself - have you got the time and dedication to take the dog out for a 30 minute walk every day before work even on a cold, dark winter morning?
  • Your health - if you are not in the best of health e.g. you suffer from allergies, then a long haired pet which moults may cause you problems. If you cannot walk far, a young boisterous dog would not be appropriate. A cat or a small elderly dog desperate for a loving home may be the perfect choice.
  • Space / garden - Some pets need more space than others. If you live in a small flat it may not be appropriate to own a big dog. Rabbits should be kept in pairs and space will be needed for an outside run or fox proof enclosure as rabbits should have access to a grassy area of the garden. Hens will also need a safe enclosed outside run.
  • Your family - if you have a new partner, have children, or if you are planning to start a family, it is essential that you consider all eventualities and scenarios. Does your partner like animals? - love me love my dog! Will you be able to cope with a pet and a young baby? Will you be able to push a pram and hold a big dog at the same time?
  • Pets for your children - Owning a pet helps to teach children about the responsibilities of caring. However, it is always the adult that is ultimately responsible for the well being of a child’s pet so, if purchasing a pet for your children, it is worth bearing in mind that the novelty can wear off and it may be you that ends up doing most of the work. Do also bear in mind that children grow up and eventually leave home so, again, it is most likely going to be you that ultimately ends up looking after the family pet even after they are gone.
  • Finances - pets cost. If finances are limited, then it is advisable to limit the number of pets you own. Think carefully before spending hundreds of pounds on buying a pet only to find that you cannot afford to keep it.
  • Careers - people change jobs and your career aspirations need to be taken into account before any decisions regarding pets are made. It may not be fair to leave a dog on its own if you are at work all day and a cat may therefore be a better choice for you. At the very least arrangements will need to be made for any dog to be let out after 4-5 hours. If you plan to relocate or work abroad, will you be able to take your pet?

Most owners regard their pet as a member of the family, providing a “forever home” and loving and caring for them up until the very end. Choosing the right pet and, particularly when it comes to dogs, choosing the right breed is crucial to help you have a long and happy relationship with your pet over the many years.

This practice is happy to offer advice in order to help you make the right decision for you and your family, not only as to which pet or breed to go for but also on where best to purchase or rescue your pet from. Please feel free to contact us and talk to us before you purchase your new pet. This advice service is free. Please call the surgery and ask to speak to our head nurse Becs.