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Guide to getting a new pet

How to pet-proof your home and get all the essentials ready

A small black dog sitting at his owners feet

Congratulations! You've decided you'd like a furry friend in your life. But before you take the leap and get a new pet, make sure you choose the right pet for your home.

Finding your ideal pet

The vet charity, PDSA, recommend that you think P-E-T-S when you're considering buying or adopting a new pet. That's:

Place. Do you have the space to accommodate the size and type of pet you'd like?

Exercise. Are you able to get out and about with your pet as much as they need?

Time. Do you have the time to train, exercise and entertain your chosen pet?

Spend. Can you afford the ongoing costs of keeping a pet, like pet insurance?

If you plan to offer a home to a rescue animal, a good rescue centre will tell you as much about the background of the animal as they can and make sure you suit each other. You may also get a home visit to check everything is in place and you'll get ongoing support if you need it.

A good rescue centre will tell you as much about the background of the animal as they can and make sure you suit each other.

Pet-proofing your home

Accidents can and will happen, especially when you bring a puppy or a kitten into your home. Young animals are usually inquisitive about their new environment, which can lead to unexpected visits to the vets.

LV= insure puppies and kittens from eight weeks old, so you can even get your pet insurance in place before your new pet comes home.

Other things to think about when getting a new pet.

  • Create a safe space for your pet where they can escape if they feel overwhelmed. For a dog this could be a crate with their bedding in it. For a cat, this could be a cat cube where they can hide.
  • Put away anything you don't want chewed. Anything left lying around at their level is fair game. Provide a scratching post for cats, so they don’t need to use your furniture.
  • Use a baby gate and childproof locks to prevent your pet from getting places where you don't want them to go.
  • Check there's nothing hazardous in your house or garden. Hide away chemical cleaning products and check your garden for poisonous plants.

Pet-proofing your family

Of course it's super exciting to get a new pet. And many families get pets to help their children learn about animals.

But it's essential when you first bring home your new pet that they are given time and space to get used to their new environment.

Teach children how to gently stroke an animal and how to understand when a pet wants to be left alone.

If there are certain ways you want your pet to behave, make sure the rest of the family are supporting this and reinforcing good behaviours.

New pet essentials

Contrary to what you may see on the internet, your pet doesn't need a different outfit for every day of the week. However, it will need a few things to help it settle in.

  • A bed. And for dogs, a crate is also useful.
  • Dogs need a collar with their ID on it and they need to be microchipped.
  • Food and water bowls. Make sure a cat's food and water is far away from their litter tray.
  • Litter tray for cats and poo bags for dogs.
  • A lot of kitchen roll and cleaning supplies for all the accidents!
  • Comb and brush for grooming.
  • Toys. But no need to go mad. A few favourites are all that's needed.
  • Treats. A great way to encourage appropriate behaviour in your pet.

Thinking about your pet's future

When the initial excitement has died down and your pet has settled in there are some important decisions you need to make for your pet.

Socialising. Cats tend to be solitary animals and are happy to be independent, but dogs need to be socialised to help them develop in to happy adults.

Ideally, dogs should encounter lots of different experiences before the age of 12 weeks. After this time they become more cautious when confronted with new things.

Vaccination. Your pet will need a series of vaccinations to help them stay healthy. These usually take place when the pet is very young and then boosters are given every year.

Pet neutering/spaying. If you're not planning on breeding from your pet, it's essential to get it spayed/neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It's important to know that LV= insurance won't cover neutering or spaying. Speak to your vet about what age it is suitable to do this.

Ongoing vet check ups. Your pet should see a vet at least once a year for a check up. Although your pet insurance won't usually cover the cost of check ups, it can help pay towards ongoing treatment if needed.

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