Do your little ones long to hear the the pitter patter of paws in your hallway? Is your other half badgering you to buy a beagle? Perhaps your teen talks of nothing but owning a pony? Whether you’re under pressure from the rest of the clan to make a new non-human addition to the family or you’re the one pushing to introduce a new member, choosing a pet that’s a fit for your family a big decision. From cost to time commitment, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to narrowing the field and finding the perfect pet for you. So, before you start thinking of names, ponder these important points to find out what type of pet ownership might be for you…
The initial outlay for pets isn’t always huge. If you’re hoping to add a four-legged friend to the family in the form of a dog, you can adopt a pet much more cheaply than splashing out on so-called designer breeds. However, it’s not just the cost of purchase or adoption fee along with setup costs that you need to consider. Paying for food, toys, accessories and insurance means the cost of pet ownership soon mounts up. According to research by the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) 98% of pet owners underestimate the lifetime cost associated with animal care. And when it comes to pooches in particular, which can live for upwards of ten years, the annual cost of ownership is around £2,000 a year. This means that adding a dog to your family could cost you tens of thousands over the course of their lifetime. It’s hard to put a price on a pet’s love and of course, there are lots of benefits connected with pet ownership but it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford.
Before you commit to taking an animal home, make sure you properly research all areas that have the potential to put a strain on your family budget. Think about:-
- Cost of their bed, hutch, tank, stabling or grazing including any on-going energy or maintenance costs.
- The price of food and how often they need feeding.
- Suitable insurance – vets bills are another area owners can vastly underestimate costs involved.
- If you’ll be out at work and need to pay for a dog walker or plan on going on holiday and will need to kennel your pet or get a sitter, you need to be aware of these costs too.
- Depending on the type of pet and breed, you may need to factor in the cost of regular grooming.
If you live in a compact two-roomed upstairs flat, your pet keeping options will certainly be limited but when you consider what type of animal your home is suited to, it’s not all about the square inches you have available. While at first glance your home may seem large enough for a small dog or a couple of cats, once you add in a few school aged children and their associated clutter, having another animal running around can start to get difficult!
It’s so important to realise that the impact of pet’s can be felt throughout the home. Think fur on carpets and cushions, lingering smells and noise when you really don’t need it. One way to limit the impact is to be strict about which areas pets are allowed to roam unmonitored.
Along with creating a specific area your pet can claim as their own to retreat to and rest in, you can use other aids. If you don’t want to drag down your careful home styling with unsightly door flaps, they can be swapped for much more stylish and practical bi-fold doors. These from Vufold have larger panes so you can spot when your pet is on the move but restrict their movement when you need to so you’re not constantly hoovering or clearing up soggy toys in areas that are meant to be off limits.
Not everyone is fully aware of the space required for keeping outside pets either. As the RSPCA points out, the golden rule for keeping rabbits is that bunnies’ accommodation can never be too big. As a minimum they should be a size of 5 foot x 2 foot x 3 foot, 6 inches high for two bunnies. It’s recommended you keep rabbits or guinea pigs in same sex groups or pairs as they need the company of their own species. If you’d prefer to keep your pet outdoors rather than in, you could consider becoming a chicken owner. According to the Guardian, chicken owners are often surprised to find that poultry can be great company, which can turn out to be a bigger reward than the laying of eggs.
Cleaning out hutches and litter trays, exercising horses and hounds, it all takes time. Thinking properly about whether you have the proper time to care for an animal is something many pet owners don’t consider until it’s too late, which is when animals can end up in rescue centres or being re-homed. For example, did you know a Yorkshire Terrier needs a walk of 20 to 40 minutes each day, whereas an energy-filled Border Terrier requires 100-120 minutes? If looking after the family pet is going to be a joint venture, you’ll need to breakdown which jobs everyone is capable of doing and what time they can give to them, you may even want to think about producing a rota.
Would a family pet make your home feel more complete? If you’re already a pet owner, what would you say are the biggest benefits and difficulties you face? Were you over optimistic before you expanded your family by adding an animal and if so, what would you say to your pre-pet owning self now?