So you have taken the decision to welcome a pet into your family for the first time, so what pet is best for you? Little four-year-old Peter is desperate for that beautiful fluffy bunny he fell in love with in the pet store window, while five year old Mandy has been pleading for a little kitten just like her friend Abigail’s. Decisions, decisions, what do you do?
Pet ownership is extremely rewarding and I have long been of the opinion, that animal welfare should be part of the school curriculum, but back to the question in hand.
Please do NOT buy or adopt on impulse and do your research before welcoming any animal into your home.
At Nina’s Nannies for Pets, we are keen advocates of #adoptdontshop and would always suggest visiting your local animal shelter. Pet stores are biased to selling their animals and in my opinion, are not best placed to offer the advice required, such as dietary requirements, socialisation and the correct feeding. In my capacity as a pet sitter, I have seen countless Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and small furries (with the exception of Syrian Hamsters), being sold separately. This is heartbreaking given that those mentioned are community animals and should never live alone.
Over the eighteen years I have been in business, I have shuddered at the inappropriate housing of some animals in our charge, such as tiny Rabbit hutches with little space for them to maneuver, Chickens kept in tiny pods which are completely inadequate, even for the pets for which they were intended and Ducks with just a bowl of water in a small garden.
When buying or adopting any pet, this should be a thought out, will prepared process. If in doubt ask a pet professional such as a vet, or visit the Blue Cross/RSPCA website, which are awash with information about all manner of pets.
Consider your home circumstances.
- What size is your garden?
- Do you work all day?
- Finances-can you afford the expense of owning a pet?
In order to decide the above, you should consider your reasons for wanting a pet. If it is primarily for your children, I would look to the small furies such as rabbits, guinea pigs or another hutch/cage dwelling creature. My particular favorite are fancy rats. Of all the little furries, fancy rats are by far the most intelligent. They are extremely affectionate little creatures and far happier if kept in pairs.
As with all pets, please consider adopting, but if you really want a pair of young rats ensure that you go to a reputable breeder.
If you are looking for a more energetic companion, then of course a dog would be ideal. However, if you work all day and require a more independent addition to your household a cat would be a purrfect fit. Again, there are dogs and cats of all ages and sizes in rescue centers up and down the country, but if it is a pure bred that you desire, PLEASE, ensure that you chose a reputable breeder and remember to:
- Never buy from a pet store or answer an advert in the local paper. These are often the window for puppy mills and should be avoided at all cost.
- Remember that the Kennel Club provides details of accredited breeders with registered puppies for sale and look on their website for contact details.
- A good breeder with be happy to welcome you to their home, where you can see mum interacting with their puppies.
- Ask the breeder for the KC registration certificate and worming information. A good breeder will ask their own questions and their premises will be clean and the dogs happy.
A good breeder will always do the following:
- Health test their breeding stock
- Take excellent care of their dogs
- Provide information and follow up care for those people buying their puppies
- Offer a lifetime of support to those who buy their puppies
- A good and considerate breeder, will have no more than three litter from a female in her lifetime and steer clear of any breeder who has different breeds of dog.
If you are still unsure, contact The Kennel Club who will be only too pleased to help.
I would strongly advise that your children are totally committed to caring for pet, since forcing a child into pet ownership will not teach them responsibility and you should be prepared to do all the caring yourselves.
Animals should be for life and not just an impulse buy.
Apart from the initial cost of buying your pet, be it from a store, breeder or shelter, pets are a huge financial commitment.
They have dietary requirements, suitable housing, grooming, holiday care and most importantly, health care.
Insurance is vital to the well-being of your pet and some can live for many years. The average lifespan of a cat is around 12 – 14 years and we have cared for some who have reached 20 and above!
Rabbits, mice, gerbils and rabbits make wonderful pets, but they need to be handled regularly. Rats especially, make wonderful companions for small children, since if socialized they are extremely interactive and affectionate, in fact I liken them to little canines in a rodent form.
All furies require regular cleaning and for some children this can be monotonous once the novelty of pet ownership has worn off. In this case, parents must be prepared to carry out these duties and where possible encourage children to continue with their routines.
Rabbits in particular can fall prey to the dreaded fly strike, a truly gruesome condition which occurs when flies lay their eggs on the rabbits rear ends. It is therefore imperative that their living quarters are kept clean and they are checked daily, especially during the summer months.
The above are the most popular choice of pets, with thousands of families welcoming them into our homes.
The majority of dogs are both loyal and affectionate, forming close bonds with their owners.
When choosing a dog, you should insure that he/she is the right breed, type for your family, which is why it is so important that you research your breed before making your decision.
Puppies and kittens need a lot of training and socialisation and may not be appropriate for young children. Adopting a calm friendly adult dog/cat however, who has been temperament assessed, may be a far better companion for your family.
As with all pet/child introductions, it is so important that you help your child to see the world through their eyes. Children would react if they were poked or prodded unexpectedly, so you should explain that animals must be treated with respect and kindness.
So have you done your research? If so, which pet did you get and did you adopt?