Australians are great pet owners. In fact, many of us consider our dog, cat, rabbit or budgie to be another member of the family. And so they should be! Owning and caring for a pet is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences we can have. But in order to have that sense of fulfilment, we need to be prepared to make a longstanding commitment to care for them, so we can both enjoy many years together. Your pet is a 'companion animal' which means he or she relies almost entirely on you for food and care.
So you've decided you'd like a pet? How do you go about choosing the one that's right for you? There are so many things to consider like:
- Lifestyle - do you have time to train, exercise, groom and play with them?
- Family - do you have small children? Some pets and children are not ideally suited
- Finance - can you afford pet food, vaccinations, micro-chipping, desexing and ongoing health care just to name a few things?
- Space - if you're considering a dog, do you have a big enough backyard?
Do your research
It really is worth doing your research so you can make sure you and your pet are the perfect match. Just think: most dogs and cats live until around 12 years of age - many for longer. And they all have very different care requirements.
Once you've ticked all the boxes and have decided you'd love to welcome a pet into your life, why not consider adopting one from an animal shelter? Sadly, they receive many unwanted animals every year - but all of them have been checked healthwise and for temperament, and are looking forward to a brand new lease on life.
Take care where you buy your pet
If you're buying your pet from a pet shop or private breeder, please check they look healthy and make sure the seller can provide you with proof of vaccinations. The seller should also be able to give you plenty of info on how to look after your new pet.
Welcoming your new pet into your home
Of course you'll want to show off your new pet to everyone, but try to give him or her time to settle in within the first 24 hours. Ask family and friends to be quiet and gentle with your new arrival and allow your pet plenty of time out. Allocate dedicated areas for sleeping and toileting, so they know what's what from the very start. Remember too, that if you're bringing a puppy or a kitten into the house, they, like babies, need plenty of rest. They can startle easily too, so make sure they have a place to go where they feel warm and safe, away from noise. And that's just the beginning of a very special relationship between you and your new four-legged friend!