What to consider when getting a new pet

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Getting a new puppy or kitten is a really exciting time for the whole family! There are so many good things and fun times to be had with pets but a new pet is also a big responsibility and commitment that lasts for 10-20 years! There are some things you need to take into consideration before adding a new member to your family:

1.       Breed

While all puppies are adorable, different breeds have different requirements. They have different exercise requirements - some breeds such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be more relaxed, whereas other working breeds such as Kelpies are always on the go. Owners will need to be prepared to keep their dogs stimulated with regular exercise and training.

The cost of food and medical treatment will also vary depending on the size of the pet, so larger dogs are more expensive to keep.

Some breeds of dog and cat are also prone to different medical conditions so it is very important to research the breed you are considering and potential problems they may face. Often testing of the parents is recommended, for example hip and elbow screening for dysplasia or genetic testing for other hereditary illnesses, in breeds prone to certain conditions.

The temperament of the parents has a huge impact on their offspring so where possible visit the parents and see if they are the type of pet you want your new addition to be like when it grows up.

We are more than happy to assist you with this research and answer questions you may have.

2.       Time

Dogs require interaction and if they aren’t kept mentally stimulated they can develop destructive behaviours and separation anxiety. If you work long hours and the pet will be left alone for long periods, taking on a new puppy or kitten may not be in their best interest.

Depending on the pet, a healthy pet may live anywhere from 10 to 20 years so you need to consider whether you are prepared to take on this long-term commitment.

3.       Cost

While some puppies and kittens may initially be ‘free to good home’, all pets require a lot of ongoing expenses. You will need to factor in the cost of food, vaccinations, worming, microchipping, desexing, council registration, flea treatment – as well as allowing for medical emergencies and illnesses. Getting pet insurance as early as possible will prevent exclusions from illnesses they had before being insured.  Emergency care is extremely expensive and having them insured can make the difference between getting life-saving treatment and having to say goodbye.

4.       Living/Work situation

If you work irregular hours or are constantly travelling it may not be the best time to get a new pet. If you have a holiday booked, you need to wait and get your new pet once you return so you are available to devote the time and attention they need to their early training and socialisation.
You also need to consider where your pet will be kept. A small breed of dog or a cat may be fine in an apartment or suburban backyard, while larger breeds require more space.
Local council laws require all cats to be confined to your property for 24 hours a day. Is there space in the backyard where you could install a cat-run or will your kitten be kept solely indoors?
Some rental properties also do not allow pets, so you would need to check with your landlord first. Moving house can also be very stressful for pets so if you are not in a stable home environment, it may be better to avoid adopting a new pet at this time.

5.       Other pets/children

You will need to consider the needs of existing pets before adding new pets to the family. Some pets do not get along, or are used to having their own space, don’t want to share and get stressed with changes. Older pets sometimes do not cope when puppies or kittens are introduced into the home and can become stressed from either the annoyance of an excited puppy or from no longer getting the same amount of attention they once did. A period of carefully supervised interactions with lead control is essential to help avoid serious issues. Never use punishment (yelling or physically striking) and just quietly separate them if there are issues whilst focusing on rewarding them both when they get along. It is a great idea to become skilled in reading pet body language to help identify signs of stress before a serious lashing out. We have some great handouts to assist with this if you need them.

If there are children in the family, it is very important to constantly supervise any interaction between children and pets and NEVER leave them alone together. Pets should be given their own space away from wandering toddlers and small children.

6.       Have a back-up plan if it is not working out.

To help you confidently take on a new pet and give your best effort it helps to have a back-up plan to take the pressure off if it is not working out. It can be extremely stressful for pets as well as their people to have to live together when they struggle to understand each other’s needs. You either need to get proper professional help with your vet or find a new home for your pet. The longer you leave things the worse it can get if you don’t manage the situation quickly and properly. Doing your research and finding the best fit is not a guarantee of a happy outcome but it sure does make it much more likely.

Things to consider before taking on a new pet to help if things don’t go to plan-

- Are you capable of putting in extra time and money in to get professional help if needed?

- Make sure you have realistic expectations for your pet.  Your research about your new pet will hopefully let you know what to expect.

- Is there a return option from the seller if the pet doesn’t meet your expectations? Keep the contact details of the seller so you can ask about family history of your pet if needed or can help with rehoming your pet if it comes to that.

- Ensure all the family understand it is a trial period for everyone to see if they can live together with the new pet.

- Is there a local shelter to get help from if things are not working out and can they help you find a new family for your pet if it comes to that?

Introducing a new furry family member is extremely rewarding as long as you are prepared for the obstacles you may face and try to find a pet that is best suited to your lifestyle. If you have any questions about getting a new pet, please feel free to contact the clinic on 5995 1451.

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