Things to consider when taking the leap into pet ownership

Woman - Dog

Australia is a pet-loving nation, with over 60% of households owning at least one pet. Having a pet can provide valuable companionship and emotional support, and is often beneficial for our physical health. However, before taking the leap into pet ownership, it’s important to consider the following practicalities.

Can you meet their day-to-day care needs on a long-term basis?

Before deciding on a pet, it’s important to consider how much time and energy you can realistically give them. Young pets require training and socialisation to ensure they grow up to be happy, well-adjusted members of the household, whilst older rehomed pets may have special nursing or medication requirements. All animals require daily physical exercise and mental stimulation activities to keep them fit and prevent them from developing negative behavioural habits out of frustration and boredom.

Many pets require daily-to-weekly grooming to maintain skin and coat health.

Just as importantly, our pets need companionship - will you be around enough each day to interact with your pet and meet their social and play needs?

It’s important to consider the kind of environment you could realistically provide for a pet, and any special requirements you may have. Read more on this here.

Which breed is best for me?

If you like the idea of a certain breed, it’s important to consider the traits of this breed in terms of exercise requirements, grooming, body size and behaviour, to ensure that they’ll fit well into your family. There are many “breed selector” questionnaires available online that may provide some guidance.

Once you’ve got some breed candidates, do some additional research regarding any genetic health issues this type of animal may be predisposed to. We recommend speaking with your local veterinary team for breed suitability advice. They may also be able to recommend a reputatable local breeder.

Equally, there are many wonderful animals at rescue centres just waiting for their Forever Home – check out the Pet Rescue online directory for options in your state. Often the rescue staff perform behavioural assessments of these animals and will have a good idea of which individual will suit your family and lifestyle.

Financial commitment

Lastly, ensure you have the finances available for your pet’s long-term day-to-day care and veterinary bills, and not just their purchase price.

Consider the routine healthcare costs associated with that particular pet – for example, dogs will require regular parasite prevention treatments, health checks and vaccinations, as well as routine procedures such as microchipping, desexing and dental treatments.

Most pets will have at least one episode of illness per year.  As there is no Medicare for animals, owners are required to cover the full cost of their pet’s veterinary care. A visit to the vet for a relatively minor health issue such as an ear infection or sore tummy will require a consultation and often lab tests and medications, which together, can cost several hundred dollars. More serious accidents or illnesses requiring specialist hospitalisation, diagnostics and treatment can cost $5-10K+.  

Once you’ve considered all of these responsible pet ownership practicalities, there’s only one more thing to do - welcome your beautiful new family member into the home!