Choosing A Pet?
We have a free advisory service to help you choose a pet that is right for you.
Please come and talk to us about choosing a pet before you actually do so. We are here to help you help and support you to make the right choice. We want to help you make a choice that will be happy for you and your animal. Clients who have used this free advisory service have found it invaluable.
The most important thing to consider when thinking about buying a pet, is what that pet's needs are, and seeing how well your lifestyle will suit those needs. Some of the important questions to ask are:
- Does it need specialised housing or equipment?
- What kind of food does it need?
- How much exercise does it need?
- How often will you need to groom it?
- How much space does it need and how much space do you have?
- Will it live indoors or outside (or both)?
- How much attention does it need?
If you were to get a pet where your lifestyle does not allow you to satisfy its needs, it would be unfair on the pet, and, in the long run, usually unfair on you. The joy of a relationship with your pet will more than outweigh the commitment, work, and expense involved in owning a pet, as long as you make the right choice, and are fully informed about the choice you make.
Dogs need companionship, exercise, and space. Some of them require regular grooming as well. If you work full time and your home is empty most of the day, then a dog may not be the right choice, however much you may want one. Dogs need two to three walks a day of up to an hour a time. If that is not something you can do (or want to do) perhaps you should reconsider getting a dog. You also need to find time to play, groom, and train your dog every day. Consider the available space - a Great Dane would not be a good choice for a one bedroom flat, for example! The family set-up is also important. A nervous, highly strung animal would not be a good choice for a large noisy family. If you are planning to get a pure bred dog, remember they have been bred for generations for specific characteristics, or have developed some specific characteristics, in terms of temperament, exercise and space needs, dietary needs, and companionship needs. You should think carefully about which breed will be best in your specific circumstances. The Dog Breed Health website will outline the needs of each type of dog to help you choose one which will suit your lifestyle.
Cats are solitary animals by nature, and so are more independent than dogs. Most cats manage much better than dogs on their own for extended periods, but they will still need time after work to play and get some mental stimulation, especially if they are indoor cats. Long haired cats should be groomed very regularly, so these should be avoided if frequent grooming is not practical.
Rabbits make excellent house pets. They do not need as much looking after as dogs do, they are docile, interesting, easy to train to use a litter tray, and interact well with people. They are, however, entirely different from dogs and cats in the way they behave, think, and in the way their bodies function. There is a great deal of incorrect information around, even in books about keeping rabbits, so we would very strongly urge you to talk to us first. We can help decide if a rabbit is for you. We can help you to get things set up correctly from the beginning. Feeding the wrong food at the start, for example, may cause a lifetime of health problems, sometimes very serious ones. Vet Tim Newton has a particular interest in rabbits, and will be very glad to talk to you about them.
Small pets like guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, and gerbils also make excellent pets, especially for children. They also have particular needs, and it is important to do your research properly. Please ask us for advice.
Reptiles are becoming increasingly popular, are fascinating, and many become quite tame with regular handling. They have very specific needs in terms of housing and diet, and it is critical to get things right at the very beginning. Our vet, Peter Lennox, has kept reptiles, and has a great interest in them, so please speak to Peter if you are considering getting a reptile. He will help you choose the right pet for you, and the right equipment for your pet.
Birds are very commonly kept in the UK, but are very often fed and housed incorrectly, leading to stressed and unhealthy animals, often without their owners being aware of it. Remember, birds also need a lot of attention, just like dogs and cats, in order to remain healthy. Peter Lennox again has an interest in cage birds and will gladly offer advice.
The major costs are food and health care.
If you decide on a cat, dog or rabbit, you should consider joining our Pet Health Club, to help you spread the cost of routine healthcare and save money at the same time.
There are many foods on the market, carrying different price tags, and of varying quality.
Feeding a West Highland White Terrier type of dog a "gourmet" high street brand of tinned food can cost around £1000 a year. However, for the best health for your dog we would recommend one of a few top quality biscuit food makes which will work out to around £250 a year for the same animal. Feeding costs for a 30kg (66lb) Labrador will almost double.
Feeding a high street brand pouched food to the average cat will usually work out at around £365 a year. High street brand tinned food will be around £185 a year. For the best health for your pet, we would advise one of a few top quality makes of biscuit food, with a feeding cost of around £110 a year.
Both of these (very approximate) figures exclude treats.
Other costs include:
Vaccinations. These need to be done annually for dogs, cats, and rabbits.
Dogs and cats need regular flea treatment, and should be wormed at least every three months. Rabbits should be treated every three to six months (we will assess this depending on your rabbit's circumstances) for worms and a disease called E cuniculi.
Dogs and cats and rabbits should be neutered for health and behavioural reasons.
Pet health insurance is essential these days for most owners in order not have to choose between the best treatment available, like at a specialist referral centre, and what you can afford.
If you go away on holiday, you will have to allow for the cost of a kennel or cattery, or a pet sitter.