Before Getting A Pet
There are a lot of important things to consider if you’re looking for a new pet – from choosing the right pet, considering where to get your pet from and what you need to do when you find your new best friend. Here we have some pet advice to help you during this exciting and busy time.
Start off with an open mind
Owning a pet is a wonderful experience that can bring enrichment into our lives. What we need to remember is that every animal and their needs are different. This means you need to make sure you’re ready for a new addition to your family and your home. You may like the look of a particular pet but that doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Every pet has its own personality and certain breeds of dogs often have strong traits – for example collies are highly intelligent and need a lot of exercise and stimulation so they don’t become bored. If your dog is bored this can result in unwanted behaviours such as chewing and digging. Some dogs, such as a bichon frise or a poodle, require regular grooming every 12 weeks by a professional groomer. If you have children, don’t just consider the breed, having a friendly and confident dog is more important.
People often think that small pets are great for children but that isn’t always true. Hamsters and chinchillas, for example, are nocturnal which means that they will be sleeping when the children are awake and want to play.
Mice and gerbils can easily be injured as they can be difficult for children to handle gently. Rabbits don’t always enjoy being picked up and hugged.
Many of the smaller pets have short lives and have very specific needs in terms of feeding and care.
So before you take on a new pet, think about what you want from your small pet and do some research.
What sort of lifestyle do you have?
You may know what kind of pet you want, but no matter what pet you get you need to think realistically about what would be best suited to your situation and your lifestyle.
If you work full time and you want a dog, who would take care of them during the day? Have you checked out local pet sitting or doggy day care facilities? Can you afford their fees? Will they be open at times that suit your schedule?
If you would prefer a cat will they be inside or outside while you’re at work? If they are inside can you provide enough entertainment and stimulation for them so they won’t claw the furniture? If they are outside, are they safe from the road and do they have adequate shelter from bad weather?
You need to carefully research the pets you are considering. Size, lifespan, temperament, known health issues, feeding requirements and exercise requirements are just some of the important things that need to be considered.
This is not the time for impulse buying
Before you take home that pet with beautiful adoring eyes you need to consider whether you’re really ready for a long term commitment. Pets can live up to 15 years or more, so you need to be sure you are ready for the commitment.
If you haven’t yet had the time to do your research, you won’t know anything about the pet’s history or any health or behavioural problems that they may come with. Planning is key to making the right decision for you and your family but also for the pet.
Check out the costs involved
It’s very important to realise that having a pet is a big financial commitment. The everyday cost of things like food, toys, grooming, pet insurance and basic vet bills can be quite significant. Unexpected costs such as emergency veterinary treatment or kennelling fees will add to this. It is important to make sure your household budget can afford these costs.
Consider a rescued pet
There are always lots of stray, unwanted and abandoned animals looking for good homes. Your local shelter or rehoming charity should be able to help you if a rescue pet is right for you. They will discuss your lifestyle and what you want from a pet with you and then suggest which animals they have that might suit you.
They will often know quite a bit about the pet before you get it, especially if it is an adult. Some shelters will do behaviour assessments before they rehome an animal. They should always be microchipped and vaccinated when you get them and they may often be neutered. You should always get microchip certificate and a vaccination card signed by a vet when you get your pet.
If you want a specific breed of dog but still want to rescue one, you can contact breed specific rescue organisations through the breed societies listed by The Irish Kennel Club.
If you want to buy a pedigree
If you do want to buy a pedigree dog or cat, ask your local vet if they know a reputable breeder. The Irish Kennel Club (IKC) has a list of registered dog breeders who must abide by certain rules. The GCFI (Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of Ireland) can help put you in touch with cat breeders.
Any breeder should provide all the relevant paperwork, like pedigree registration papers, vaccination certificate, health screening certificates and a written medical history from a veterinary practice, detailing vaccinations and worming. All dogs must come with a certificate of microchipping, this is a legal requirement for all dogs in Ireland.
You should always be able to visit the mother with the litter of pups. It can be useful to meet other dogs in the household as this can give you an idea of their temperament and how the pups are likely to have been raised. Seeing where the pups have grown up is very important. If they have spent all their time in kennels with little or no exposure to everyday life, then it might be more difficult for them to adjust to family life in a house. You should also ask whether any related litters have been diagnosed with any inherited disease.
Breeders should be happy for you to contact their vet and other buyers of their puppies. Reputable breeders are very proud of the animals that they have produced and will be happy to give you the information you want. They are also quite likely to ask you for references so that they can be sure that you will be able to provide a suitable home.
We would strongly advise not to buy any animal online. Most reputable breeders don’t advertise, they don’t need to as they generally have waiting lists. Many of the pups advertised online come from puppy farms where the welfare of the pups and the parents may not be a priority.