Bringing home a new pet, whether it’s a cat or a dog, a tiny hamster, an exotic lizard or even a horse, is an exciting day. It also means new responsibilities to you – whatever pet you’ve chosen, it’s relying on you for its health, happiness and wellbeing.
Today we’re taking a look at a simple checklist you can work down to make sure you’re ready for your new pet – whatever it may be!
Most pets will need the right environment to be healthy and happy, and these requirements differ from pet to pet. Cats need space they can hide in undisturbed when they need a break. It’s an advantage to give a dog it’s own room to help contain mess from muddy walks and housetraining incidents. Bigger and more exotic pets have more specific requirements, and it’s unwise to commit to caring for one until you’ve researched what they need and have everything they need in place, whether that’s specialised food or a heated terrarium.
Health and Wellbeing
Under the UK’s Animal Welfare Act of 2006, you are legally obliged to try to protect your pet from injury, pain and suffering – and of course, as a loving and responsible owner, that’s what you’ll want too!
The best way to make sure you’re fulfilling your obligations and giving your pet the best chance at a happy, healthy life is to register with a vet. If you’re looking for a new vet UK towns and cities will usually have multiple options within a reasonable journey from home, but do check they can offer care for your pet specifically. If you have an exotic or large animal, you may need to go further afield.
Mental Stimulation and Happiness
It’s as important to think about keeping your pet healthy mentally as it is to worry about their physical health. Many pets can suffer from stress and depression, and this can affect their behaviour and physical health. Different animals will react in different ways – some might become withdrawn, some could become more aggressive, others groom obsessively or pluck fur or feathers.
You need to make sure your pet is appropriately stimulated and socialised. There are lots of things you can do, from feeding, to play, to exercise that can provide appropriate (and fun!) outlets for your pet’s energy and keep them happier. You could try hiding food for them to find, using a puzzle feeder, or for some pets using live food to simulate the natural activities of hunting.
Physical exercise is also important, though different pets have different needs. Dogs will require walking outside (which also allows them to meet and play with other dogs). Cats often enjoy exploring and playing outside, though this might not be advisable depending on where you live and the needs of your cat. If you’re keeping an indoor cat it’s important to provide them with more exercise and mental stimulation through play, so stock up on cat toys!