When it comes to deciding whether to buy a pet for your family or not, there are some pretty tricky issues to consider before you dash off to the pet shop! Pets of all kinds are attractive to children and adults alike; the thought of a cute and fluffy kitten or puppy is particularly appealing and the temptation grows when friends’ dogs or cats have a litter.

Dogs can enrich family life but they are a lot of responsibility.
Dogs can enrich family life but they are a lot of responsibility.

However it is important to consider the realities of owning an animal before you are tempted to buy…or adopt an animal! Pets cost quite a lot on a yearly basis to feed and the bills only get bigger when you add veterinary fees to the list. In addition to food and health care there is also the issue of caring for your pet when you are away; most families will spend at the very least a few days away a year and kennel and catteries can cost a fortune.

Discuss the issues as a family; some important questions to ask before you commit to the care of an animal are as follows;

  1. Who will take responsibility for walking or exercising the pet?
  2. Who will ensure the animal is fed and watered daily?
  3. Who will groom the animal?
  4. Who will clean up it’s messes?
  5. What happens if a holiday or trip is booked?
  6. How much will it cost to have a pet? Include insurance and kennel/cattery fees in this.

If you can answer all of the above questions and the family is agreed that you are able to afford the costs and the time which pets incur then it is likely that you will manage a pet well. However, the issues can begin to get problematic when the novelty has worn off and the kitten has made a mess (again!) and nobody wants to clean up!

This issue is best dealt with by using a rota system; taking turns to feed, water and clean up after animals is the fairest way to deal with the less pleasant aspects of animal care.

If your family is set on owning a dog, then it is very important to fully grasp the huge responsibility which comes with canine care. Dogs, especially puppies, need a firm hand and an experienced owner. If nobody in your family has owned a dog in the past then it is vital that you attend dog training classes with your puppy or dog.

Only when you are confident in the care and management of a dog is it safe to socialize the animal among other dogs and people.

Puppies can be destructive if they do not receive regular exercise.
Puppies can be destructive if they do not receive regular exercise.

If your home is empty during the day, then a dog may not be the best choice for you. Dogs are social animals; they adore company and many will become destructive if they are left to their own devices for too long. Loneliness can cause bad behaviour in dogs and many people don’t like to leave them outside in the day as it is not the best situation for them.

If you can pay for a dog walker, then this can be a way around the issue of your home being empty during the day, otherwise it may be a good idea to join forces with another working dog owner and share doggy day care. Walking one another’s dogs on the days when there is nobody at home can be a good way to socialize your pet too.

Cats require very little care although it is a good idea to litter train your cat or you may find that your neighbours become disgruntled by the mess that cats can make in flower beds and on lawns!

A dog or cat can add a lot to your life, they are affectionate and fun and great for children to learn about responsibility too!