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How to choose the right pet for you

Pet ownership is a two-way street – our furry friends bring us joy, companionship and loyalty so, in return, we need to make sure their needs are met too.

PDSA Vet Nurse Joanne Wright gives her advice for choosing the perfect pet partner.

Joanne said: “Getting a pet is a very exciting time and a lifetime commitment so it’s important to do plenty of research to make sure that you can provide everything they will need to live a long, happy and healthy life. This includes everything from their diet and exercise to vet bills and making sure you have enough free time to devote to them. Consider P-E-T-S: Place, Exercise, Time and Spend.”

Place – a suitable home and environment

“Make sure you have enough space for your pet to run and play. Dogs need a secure outdoor space to explore each day and a warm, sheltered, safe home. Rabbits and guinea pigs should have access to a large run or garden, with a dry, secure shelter to protect them from predators. Hamsters and gerbils need a spacious cage, but some sold in pet shops can be a bit too small, so it’s important to research your pets’ needs prior to purchasing any equipment”

Exercise – the right type and amount of exercise

“All pets enjoy games and toys to keep them active. For smaller pets you can easily do this in your home, whereas dogs enjoy daily walks, with supervised off-lead time in a safe area. Cats like playing games which mimic the hunting skills they would use in the wild”.

Time – can you devote enough time to your pet?

“All pets are generally sociable towards people. Dogs especially love our company and can become lonely and anxious if left alone too long, so we recommend not leaving them for longer than four hours at a time. Factor in time for walks, training, play, feeding, cleaning their home and equipment, grooming and visits to the vet. All of these might take up more time than you think.”

Spend – a lifetime of expenses

“The cost of keeping a pet for their lifetime can be surprisingly expensive. The initial outlay for a puppy or kitten can be high but you’ll need to factor in ongoing costs such as food, equipment, toys, groomers, flea and worm treatments, pet insurance premiums and insurance excesses, replacing a chewed-up bed or unexpected vets bills, to name just a few!

Write down a checklist of everything your new pet might need so you can estimate the cost and remember that some pets can have long lifespans.

Joanne’s last advice is to get as much knowledge as possible about the pet you’re thinking of getting.

Knowledge – how much do you know about the pet that you want?

“Make sure you know about the five Welfare Needs that all pets need to be happy and healthy. It’s worth considering how and whether you’ll be able to meet all those needs for your new pet.”

Where you get your pet can be just as important, as pets coming from better backgrounds will be much more likely to be happy, healthy and well-behaved.”

Joanne concludes: “It’s important to get your new pet from a reputable breeder or rescue centre to avoid the heartbreak of getting an unwell or poorly-socialised pet, you’ll be rewarded for all your hard work researching when you find the perfect pet.”

PDSA’s PetWise quiz can help you make the decision on which pet is right for you. Visit

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

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