Introducing a New Pet to Your Family

Pets are wonderful, they bring joy to our lives, teach children about caring for living things and are always there for a cuddle when you are feeling down. Choosing what pet to add to your family can be the hardest decision, do you go for a low-maintenance animal like guinea pigs, rabbits or a hamster or a pet that offers more involvement in your lives like a dog or cat. Of course, you might be tempted by exotic pets too, like bearded dragons and snakes, although the initial investment can reach into the £100s depending on the type of set up you go for.

If you are thinking about bringing a pet into your family home and this is your first experience with choosing an animal and getting your home ready, here is some advice to make your addition go smoothly.

Consider Your Expenses

Pets aren’t cheap, they require enrichment, feeding, watering and in some cases training and properly socialising. This is not only a big resource regarding expenditure but can take up a large amount of your time. Before you decide to introduce a new pet into your home, think about what you would like and the initial investment and ongoing cost you are going to take on.

For example, if you are bringing a dog into your life, you are going to need food and water bowls, a harness and leash, a dog bed, toys and comforting items and some treats for rewarding good behaviour and training. Ongoing costs include food, medicine, flea and worm treatments, insurance against health problems and accidents, new toys and possibly warm jackets depending on the breed you choose.

Talk to Family Members

When you bring a new pet into your family home, everyone will need to show some responsibility and patience with your pet as they adjust and become a part of the family unit. Talk to your children about what their responsibilities towards the pet would be, whether this taking the dog out for a walk, making sure the cat stays in the house or helping to regularly clean out catches or hutches.

If you have very young children, it might be best to wait until they understand more of the world around them, unless you can dedicate time and money in keeping your new pet and young child apart while they both adjust and learn to be careful around each other. Unfortunately, the amount of accidents has increased in recent years concerning toddlers and young children who haven’t been taught how to properly act around animals, leading to scratches and bites.

Check Laws and Requirements

Like with raising children, there are wellbeing requirements for owning a pet and laws that protect the vulnerable animals we bring into our homes. If you do not take care of your animal or neglect their wellbeing, you can face an unlimited fine or up to 6 months in prison and face a ban on owning animals in the future. This makes it even more important to inform yourself on how to look after your chosen pet correctly and seek advice or veterinary treatment if you pet falls ill or has an accident. While there are no licence requirements in the UK for owning a common domestic pet, some exotic animals (that are unsuitable for first time pet owners) do require licences from your local council and must be registered with a vet knowledgeable in the species.

In addition to meeting minimum wellbeing requirements, there are certain laws that apply to individual pets. For example, as per the Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs must wear a collar and pet tag displaying their owner’s name and address on. It’s advantageous to also include your phone number in case you and your pet get separated. You can visit this website to find more information on buying pet tags and the information they should include.

There are many advantages to introducing a pet into your family home, from the recorded health benefits such as reducing stress levels and encouraging an active lifestyle to the experiences and companionship they offer our children.

With the festive season coming up, remember, a pet should never be given as a gift, especially to children. Owning a pet is a responsibility that lasts for as long as your pet does, this could be 3 years to 30 years and beyond, so consider very carefully if owning a pet is right for your home and your family and choose your new fur-ever friend together as a family after the holidays.  

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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