Adopting a pet

Read our guide on what to consider when adopting a pet

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Getting a new pet is exciting and can be a very rewarding experience. However, it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly and there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration.

Cat wandering through the grass

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Adopting a pet can be very rewarding, but it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. There are a number of points to consider first.

Do your research

Before you decide to adopt a pet, it’s important to do some research. Think about your lifestyle and how much time you have free in order to give a pet the care and attention it needs.

Cats, for example, are very independent animals that are happy to wander around outside while you are at work, but dogs require more attention and need walks and regular exercise away from the home.

Before you start your search for a pet, think about:

  • Can you afford to look after a pet?
  • Do you have time to look after a pet?
  • Is your home suitable for a pet – and are pets allowed if you rent your home?
  • Are you prepared to train your pet if it is untrained?
  • Do you need a pet that is already comfortable around children?
  • Do you have someone available to look after your pet while you’re on holiday?

Where can you start looking?

When it comes to searching for your new furry family member there are both animal shelters and rescue centres that offer pets for adoption.

In general, local shelters look after pets that have been brought in due to owners not being able to take care of them. Rescue groups usually rescue pets from abusive homes or homeless situations and provide the animal with a temporary foster home until it is adopted.

What are the key considerations?

Although your family might be ready to bring a new cat or dog home, it’s important to consider whether you have enough space and can afford to pay for food, medical costs, bedding, toys and so on.  

Usually pedigree breeds and larger animals cost more in upkeep as they require more food, space, grooming and tend to generate higher insurance costs.

Keep the following in mind:

Environment

Before adopting an animal, you should take extra precautions to ensure your home is a safe environment for them. Remember that some rescue dogs and cats have had traumatic experiences. Therefore your new pet may need a comfortable and quiet space to relax in while they are adjusting to their new environment.

If choosing a dog for a household with children, having a child-friendly dog will be a top priority. You must also consider other pets and whether your new addition to the family would cause them distress, or vice versa.

Cats are very clean animals but you will still need to train them (if they have not already been trained) to use a litter tray.

Food

There are various brands of cat and dog food but the centre where you adopt your pet from should be able to advise you and give you information on any special dietary needs.

Pet care and vaccinations

Before you adopt your pet, you will need to see if it requires any outstanding vaccinations. Speak to your vet if you are unsure which vaccinations are essential and to check whether the animal is spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted litters.

It’s also important that you regularly treat your cat or dog for fleas and worms. There’s a variety of treatments on the market so do your research and find the best one for you.

Toys

It’s important your pet is able to run about and play so make sure you get toys for them to use. For cats, a scratching post is a sensible purchase to reduce the chances of your chairs and soft furnishings getting damaged.

Also ensure you have grooming products for your animal to help keep their fur in good condition.

Micro-chipping and collars

Since 6 April 2016, it is a legal requirement that all dogs in Scotland, England and Wales are microchipped. Microchipping costs £10 - £15. Although it is not yet a legal requirement to microchip cats, it’s a good idea to do it.

Dog collars can also significantly improve the chances of your pet being returned to you in the event that it runs away or gets lost.

Insurance

If your pet were to fall ill, vet fees can run into the thousands of pounds. It’s therefore important to make sure that you take out a pet insurance policy that will cover this.

When adopting a new dog or cat remember that some breeds will cost more to insure than others. To find out more about this visit our article on the costs of insuring your pet.

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