Help & Advice Centre


Getting A Pet

Getting A Pet
Getting a pet is a big deal no matter what your situation is or the type of pet you get. The choice to open up your home to an animal and the commitment to their wellbeing and welfare is a great task, one not to be taken lightly. Therefore, we have gathered some general information, advice and given some examples to assist with all the essentials to think about before taking the leap into pet ownership.

Making your home pet-friendly:
Regardless of the animal or animals you decide to give a home to, it is important that you do just that; give it a home. Each animal will have its own set of welfare criteria that will need to be carefully considered. Always do your research before going out to choose a pet; you will need to make sure your home is suitable or that you have provided the correct type of home / enclosure. Most of the time modifications will need to be made before the animal enters your home.

For example most pet shops / aquatic centres will not allow you to purchase a fish tank and the fish on the same day. This is largely due to the tank needing to be set up with the pump running for the water to cycle to ensure the water is at the correct levels (PH, GH, ammonia etc). Without doing so can result in a toxic environment to introduce the new fish to. You will be advised to bring a small amount of water from your tank to be tested first to ensure the water is ready for the fish to enter, an extremely important step that will protect the welfare of the fish.

Ensuring that you have everything prepared and that you too are also prepared for the new addition will massively aid in the settling in period for any new pet.

Preparing for getting a pet:
There are certain spaces you will need to have checked (or check yourself) before bringing a pet home. If you’re getting a dog, rabbit, guinea pig or other animal/s that may wish to spend time in your garden, it is vital that the perimeter has been thoroughly checked and made secure. Small animals, puppies and some smaller dogs may squeeze through small gaps that have previously gone unnoticed by you. The same goes for inside your house; if your new pet is going to be allowed free run of the house it’s important to check any areas where they could go to hide or explore that may become dangerous. Cables hanging from behind your TV, for example, pose a chewing opportunity for house rabbits, rats or other small animals you may wish to allow full room freedom from time to time. They also pose a tangle risk to cats and dogs.

It is best to agree beforehand where the pet is to spend most of its time, remembering that some small animals are nocturnal, especially hamsters, gerbils and mice who enjoy running on a wheel at night so are probably best not kept in the bedroom.

Researching your pet before choosing it will be vital to understand the space and equipment required to give your pet the best home possible. Most of the time preparation work is required before your pet comes into your home, having everything ready beforehand will also make the transition period easier when you bring your pet home for the first time.

Bringing your pet home:
Once you have decided on the type of pet you’d like, done all of your research, and prepared your home or an enclosure for them, it will be time to actually bring them home. Taking any animal no matter the size, shape or age from their current home into yours will be a big change for them and there will be an adjustment period. During this time it’s important not to rush the animal into anything they may not want to do. Smaller animals, for example hamsters, mice, gerbils etc., may not want to come straight out of the box in which they were brought home in. It's advised that you simply open up the door and allow them the space to explore their new surroundings at a pace that suits them.

Bringing home a new puppy can be exciting for the whole family. It’s fun to watch them explore their new environment but it’s also important to be aware that this is probably the first time it has been away from its Mum and litter mates. A blanket or soft toy that’s been with them and their littermates will aid in this transition period; the dog will have something of familiarity among new surroundings. Allowing them time to play will also help when it comes to their first night in the home and they will be tired from the journey home, as well as exploring their new surroundings and meeting new family members. This will help them get a good first night's rest and will be vital to them finding their feet with you and settling in quicker. Remember to leave the blanket or soft toy with them on these first few nights to stop them getting too lonely or cold.

What you need to consider for your home / family:
Consider neighbouring pets. If you decide a cat is the right pet for you, once they have settled in and you’re happy for them to go outside, they will want to explore. It’s important to consider other cats within the neighbourhood as your cat may roam into another’s territory. Similarly, if you get a dog or smaller animal, think about what could potentially get in as well as your pet getting out. For example, if you decide to get an outdoor rabbit, it’s important that they’re put away into an adequately sized, fox-proof safe space. It would benefit for the rabbit to have free access to this area all the time but essentially they are ‘locked’ in before dusk as this is when potential predators such as foxes can enter your garden.

If you already have a pet in the house and you wish to bring in another of the same species, it will be important to think about age, sex and potentially breeding. If, for example, you have an intact male dog and you wish to bring in a female, you will have to keep them separate until one or both can be castrated / sprayed to avoid unwanted litters.

Finally, no matter what pet you decide to get or where you get them from it is recommended you speak to the current owners / breeders / rescue centres as they will have information about the animal. Moreover, make sure you do your research into any pet before taking the impulse to bring one into your home. It’s important that you know what you are letting yourself in for, the amount of time required, and the associated costs.

As aforementioned, owning any pet can be extremely rewarding to both yourself and the animal. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and to seek advice from someone who already has pets. There’s no such thing as a silly question. What matters is that you understand the commitment and are prepared to learn.