Pet ownership can be a wonderful experience and has been shown to have many benefits to people’s mental and physical health. However, this comes with a lot of responsibility and whatever the size, species, or sex, they all have differing needs, and as pet owners we have a legal obligation to ensure we meet them. Pet ownership should be fun and enhance our lives, but we must remember that at the centre of it is an incredible living creature who should get all the love, care and attention that they deserve!
My top tips before taking on a new family pet:
- From Pointers to parrots and Rex’s to rabbits, what is right for one person may not be appropriate for another.
- Avoid impulse decisions and take a step back to consider all the impacts and responsibilities associated with owning your choice of pet before committing.
- Do your research! We strongly advice you to seek advice from your veterinary team before acquiring any pet. It is thought that approximately only 1 to 20 people do this. We are here to help.
- Always consider the option of rehoming a pet prior to purchasing one. “Wilma the Whippet or “Doris” the Domestic Shorthair may be waiting patiently at your local rehoming centre desperate for a loving home.
- If purchasing a pet from a breeder, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and don’t ignore warning flags. Always visit the breeder’s house and ask to see the parents and litter mates. If things seem suspicious, they probably are. If you are worried about the conditions and welfare, never go ahead assuming you are “saving them” as you are likely to be fuelling the situation. Instead, report the breeder to the local authorities or RSPCA.
- When deciding which pet, prioritise their function in your family and their welfare over their looks. Avoid animals with exaggerated anatomical features which may have a negative impact on their wellbeing, not to mention being costly to meet their medical requirements.
- Always consider getting your pet insured to help with the financial responsibility of pet ownership.
Having the NHS for our own medical needs is fantastic in many respects, but it does mean that we have become removed from the costs associated with health care. When it comes to our pets, we are paying for private medical treatment which not only seems very costly but will often come at inopportune moments.
To help budget for this often-unwanted expense, pet insurance can offer peace of mind and remove some of the financial stress when making decisions about your pet’s medical needs. Pet insurance is very different to other types of insurance such as house and car policies as it is much more likely to be used regularly. This means that a good insurance policy is going to be expensive in comparison but is still cheaper in the long run.
Do not be tempted to go for the cheapest policy possible as this can sometimes be a false economy. We would always advise going for the best policy that you feel you can comfortably afford and shopping around for the one that meets your individual needs. It is worth considering lifelong policies to avoid long term conditions being excluded at the end of the year and be careful with maximum benefit policies which will stop covering a condition or group of conditions once the limit is reaches.
Your vet may be able to help guide you and for impartial advice we would always advise going to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) website: www.abi.org.uk
Myth: “My vet always asks if I am insured, and I am convinced they do this so they can increase the prices.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth, the reason that we ask this is because we are thinking the complete opposite. We always have to offer clients the full range of options for their pet’s medical needs but if people are not insured or there are cost limitations, we are trying to guide people through the process of treating their pet at a budget that suits their individual circumstances.