GETTING A NEW PET
Thinking about getting a new pet is a big responsibility and a lot of thought should be given before making any decisions. You should ask yourself the following questions:
A lot of information about getting a new pet is available. The vets and nurses are always willing to discuss with you any queries you have about keeping animals, and the library is full of books about choosing and looking after animals - well worth a visit. Forewarned and prepared is forearmed and you will find the whole process of getting a new pet much more enjoyable if you are informed.
Puppies and kittens are hard work. There are no two ways about it. The benefit of getting a young animal is that you effectively start with a "blank slate" and therefore can allow him or her to develop a suitable personality from a young age. However to get to this stage they require a lot of attention, patience and time. When getting a young animal it is important to try and see the environment that it has spent its time growing up in. For example if a puppy has been kept in a corner of a shed all its life with little human contact - it will come as no surprise that it will be nervous of people. If a dog has grown up never seeing a cat before - don't be surprised when it wants to investigate your family cat when it gets home! It is also advisable to try and see the parents as well. This will give you a certain idea as to what your young pet will look like when its grown up - young puppies tend to look very similar. There are big differences between a Yorkshire terrier and a Great Dane!
Getting an older or rescue animal should always be considered when wanting to obtain a new pet - and everything in the section above applies here as well. Unfortunately there are always numerous animals across the country that are homeless and these often make very good and loving pets. It is not true that rescue dogs or cats are "easier" than getting a puppy or kitten, but there are certain advantages.
Most rescue centres have a system by which they will assess if you are suitable for the animal. This is not always the case! For example a dog afraid of men would not be suitable to be re-homed as a football team mascot! Also most rescue animals actually don’t come with "issues" and the enjoyment and satisfaction found from re-homing an animal is often tremendous and usually mutual!
If you have decided on a species (ie dog, cat rabbit etc) is also very important to consider what breed you want to get. Each and every breed is different and often comes with its own set of pro's and con's. When choosing an animal you should think about the characteristics that make up the breed. (Although most of below applies to dogs, the same applies to all species.)
Rabbits are now the third most common pet in the United Kingdom and this figure is set to rise over the next few years. Guinea-pigs, hamsters, rats and chinchillas are also very popular - to name but a few. These "small-furries", birds and the reptiles are often called the Exotic Pets. Everything said so far in this section applies to these too - the responsibility of looking after "Exotic" pets is just the same as dogs and cats.
Because they are small and often because they are children's pets it is important to be extra careful when choosing and looking after these animals. Before choosing an "exotic" pet you need to make sure that you know enough about their requirements and husbandry. You will need to know what type of housing they have - is the heating and humidity suitable? What food should they have? Do they need special dietary additives? What about unusual requirements - for example did you know that chinchillas need to bathe in dust regularly to maintain their coat?
Again, have you got the time to give these animals the attention they deserve. It is no good having a rabbit that spends all its time in a hutch down the bottom of the garden - that just has food given to it every day. These animals require daily handling and careful examination on a regular basis, as illness and disease is often a lot more subtle.
Every person’s individual situation and circumstances are different. The vets and nurses are always more than happy to discuss any queries that you may have when choosing a pet. We will also give you a very truthful opinion on breeds as well as the inherent health problem with certain breeds are becoming much more severe.
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