Choosing the right pet for your lifestyle

As a nation, we love pets. Statistics show that in the UK, pet ownership levels peaked at 62% in 2022. It’s believed that the pandemic and resulting lockdowns prompted this decision for many households. Although this figure has reduced to 57% in 2023, it’s still significantly higher than in previous years.

When it comes to choosing the right pet, however, there are some things you’ll need to consider. Here’s how you can choose the right pet for your lifestyle.

Understanding Your Lifestyle

To begin with, it can be helpful to establish exactly what your current lifestyle looks like. Are you a busy professional who lives alone? Part of a large family with children? One half of a retired couple?

Important considerations include:

  • Working patterns: Some individuals work five days a week in the office or are away from home frequently while others have flexible working patterns and can work from home. 
  • Daily routine: You might have a busy lifestyle that involves attending clubs, events and activities.
  • Living situation: Your home might be a small high-rise flat with no outdoor space or a spacious suburban house with a large garden.
  • How active you are: Some people are more active than others, perhaps due to their age and a lack of disabilities, whereas others simply don’t or can’t live an active lifestyle.

Types of Pets

According to the World Animal Foundation, dogs are the most popular pets in the UK and are owned by around 31% of households. However, there are plenty of different pets to consider beyond this, including: 

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Small mammals (e.g. rabbits, guinea pigs)
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians 

Take the time to get to know the characteristics of each pet, as well as practical considerations such as enclosures, food and equipment they need in order to live comfortably. Tortoises need a UVB tube and heat light, while birds need a suitable cage depending on the size and breed. Remember, if you have more than one pet, it’s sensible to consider securing multi-pet insurance so you have peace of mind.

Considerations for Choosing a Pet

Beyond understanding the type of lifestyle you have, it’s important to understand whether you can accommodate a pet’s needs. Have a think about:

  • Physical space: Will your home be suitable for the type of pet you want to own? Some smaller homes aren’t suitable for large dogs for instance, as they need to exercise and run around daily.
  • Time commitment: Think about whether you can dedicate time each day to give your pet the care they need, including exercise, grooming and socialisation. 
  • Allergies: Assess whether having a pet would cause problems for those with allergies in your family – certain breeds or types of animals may be better options. 
  • Financial considerations: There’s no denying the fact that owning a pet can be expensive at times. Veterinary costs, food, toys and possible emergency medical costs can add up over time. 
  • Long-term commitment: A pet is for life, which means you need to decide whether you can commit to the responsibility long-term. 

Consultation and Adoption

These days, there is greater awareness of unethical practices in the pet ownership world. However, you should still be diligent, as some breeders might fabricate the information they share about their animals.

It’s recommended that you visit animal shelters and rescue organisations to offer a home to animals that don’t have one. Alternatively, ensure the breeder you visit is a reputable one that comes recommended. Either way, it’s important to meet potential pets and get to know them and their backgrounds. 

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