Choosing the right pet for your family

In celebration of National Pet Month running from the 1st April to the 10th May Primary Times takes a look at things to consider before getting a new furry family member.

Choosing the right pet
The thought of having the addition of a ­fluffy feline friend or a playful puppy to your family can be exciting. However, not all animal breeds are the same. Do your research on their temperament, eating habits, lifespan and the amount of exercise they will need. Head to www.psda.org.uk and take their PetWise quiz to find out which animal is suitable for your family.

Time
If you’re working full time, who is going to look after the dog when you’re at work? Are you okay with leaving a cat at home all day that could scratch your furniture? All these things need to be considered before getting a pet. Pet ownership is a huge responsibility and many pets can live for at least ten years, and your family situation may change during this period. It may seem tempting to get the first addition you see, but think about ifm you’re ready for the long-term commitment.

Rescue Pets
Lots of unwanted and stray pets are desperate for a safe and loving home. Adult rescue pets are a great choice if you want already established behaviours and want the reassurance that they will fit into your lifestyle. However, make sure you ask questions when visiting the rescue centre regarding the animal’s past.

Costs
Ask yourself if you can really afford it. Make sure you plan for costs such as pet insurance, medical procedures, vaccinations, food and toys, as these can all add up and will affect your family budget long term.

The loss of a pet
The life expectancy of a pet varies; so ensure that you will be able to handle the situation when the worst happens, as this could be a child’s first experience of bereavement. The way children deal with pet loss may lay the foundation of how they cope with other losses later in their life.

Which pet is right?

Dogs: Dogs are extremely high maintenance and a big commitment, so it’s important to consider the breed, temperament and how much exercise and space they will need.

Cats: Cats are great house pets and take less work than dogs, and you can opt for them to be indoor cats.

Rabbits/Guinea Pigs: Rabbits and guinea pigs have similar traits, as they are both fairly low maintenance. It is ideal to keep rabbits and guinea pigs in pairs, as they both love to socialise. Fill their hutch with food, bedding and give them regular playtime, they both can be very rewarding pets.

Hamsters: Hamsters are the most common most pet for children and are a great way to introduce your child into caring for animals. Hamsters need plenty of food, water, and nesting material. Hamsters are nocturnal, so bear this in mind before committing.

Adopt an Animal: If you don’t have the space or time to commit to getting a pet, adopting an animal is a great choice. Most zoo’s and rescue centres offer this service and is a great way to get your child to contribute towards the wellbeing of an animal.

For more information on how you can get involved with National Pet Month visit www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk

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