Do you spend time imagining how much better life would be with a mischievous puppy, a cute kitten, some twitchy-nosed bunnies or a pair of adorable chinchillas? Before you turn fantasy into reality in a swift moment of madness, stop and do your homework first...
Posted: 06 July 2018
If you’ve longed for a dog, hankered after a hamster, or craved a cat for as long as you can remember, making that dream come true can be a wonderful thing. However, the idea of getting a pet is very different from actually owning one. Suddenly you’re responsible for providing another living, breathing creature with the right environment, food, training and companionship – and it’s a really big deal. Yet, many pet owners are totally unprepared.
While plenty of people do gen up on guinea pigs or find out what keeping ferrets is all about, not everyone has got with the programme. For veterinary charity PDSA, this is a big worry. According to research, which collated information from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), one in four pet owners carry out absolutely no research before taking on a new pet. Not only does that mean they have no idea what they are getting themselves into, they’re potentially risking the long-term health and welfare of the pet they’ve taken on.
PDSA senior vet Rebecca Ashman says: “Lack of pre-purchase research leaves owners ill-prepared for pet ownership. Sadly, this is inadvertently leading to pets’ Five Welfare Needs not being properly met and, by extension, is causing an array of welfare issues from behaviour problems and chronic stress to inappropriate housing and obesity for the UK's dogs, cats and rabbits.”
The findings revealed:
Dr Ashman added: "It is vital that we elevate the importance of pre-purchase research in potential owners' minds. Most people wouldn't consider buying a new car or booking a holiday without doing extensive research, yet pets are often bought on a whim.”
There are no two ways about it. Anyone considering a pet should ignore any rash impulses and start by doing lots of lots of research.
Before you take the plunge and bring a new puppy, a cat, some bunnies or guinea pigs (all small pets except Syrian hamsters need company of their own kind), it’s really important to ask yourself some tough questions:
Find first class advice on training, nutrition, grooming and the general care of rabbits, dogs, cats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats and ferrets, here >>
Find some top tips on keeping children interested in caring for their pets here >>
Sources: petgazette.biz, pdsa.org.uk, rspca.org.uk