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Owning a pet

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9. Owning a pet

Pet ownership can be incredibly rewarding and leave you with years of happy memories. However, it involves a lot of responsibility, and some animals can be harder work when you have disabilities.

Some of the pros and cons of owning a pet are:

 

Pros

  • Can be very good for improving your mental health
  • Owning active animals like dogs can be good for your physical health
  • They can be very useful for teaching responsibility and kindness
  • A useful way to socialise and speak to new people

 

Cons

  • Taking care of an animal can mean less time for going out and socialising
  • Increased costs with food, vet care, insurance and boarding

 

Thinking about getting a pet

If you do decide to get a pet, here are some of the things you must remember to do:

You must make sure your pet:

  • has a proper diet and fresh water
  • has somewhere suitable to live
  • is kept with or away from other animals, depending on its needs
  • is allowed to express itself and behave normally
  • is protected from, and treated for, illness and injury
  • is microchipped if they are a dog, and that you keep your contact and address details up to date on the microchip.

When you're thinking about getting a pet, think PETS:

  • P - How suitable is the PLACE where you live?
  • E - How much EXERCISE can you give your pet?
  • T - How much TIME can you spend with your pet?
  • S - Can you afford to SPEND money on your pet for the rest of its life?

PDSA have a quick quiz on their website that will help you decide whether you are ready to own a pet, and which pet would be best for you!

Pets you can own in your home include:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rabbits
  • Small mammals (such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice)
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Reptiles and amphibians (such as snakes, frogs, lizards and tortoises)

 

Buying a pet

Before you buy a pet, there are a few things to think about:

  • Try an animal charity first - There are thousands of healthy, loving animals of all ages throughout the UK who need a home.
  • See young animals with their mum - Are they old enough to leave her? Kittens and puppies aren't independent until they are eight weeks old.
  • Go and see the pet - Make sure you ask about the animals health and medical history. Beware of dodgy breeders. Dog breeders especially have to follow certain rules, and you should check these are being followed before you buy a dog from a breeder. 
  • Understand your pet's needs - Many animals need companionship, space and exercise. Know how much it will cost to keep your pet. 
  • Report adverts for illegal breeds and beware of illegal imports - Pets that have been smuggled in may have a disease that affects their health and yours.

 There is a free online tool to help anyone wanting to buy a puppy to make sure the puppy your are buying has been bred responsibly 

When you have decided to get a pet, you can buy them from:

  • Rescue Centres and animal charities - you can find local rescue centres by using the Support Adoption for Pets tracker, or you can search online.
  • Pet shops - you can find these by searching online, or you may already know of one that is local to you.
  • Individual breeders - you can find these online, through phone books, or they will often advertise in local grocery and pet shops.

 

Some other things to remember about owning a pet are:

  • Pet Insurance is something to consider when you get a pet. It can save you lots of money if your pet gets ill or needs extra treatment from the vet.
  • You must be over the age of 16 to own a pet.
  • You must ensure you have the correct licences for certain types of exotic pets.
  • If you have any queries or would like some help with your pets, you can contact the RSPCA, or the visit the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) website for further advice.

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