How to Take Care of a Pet

Pets can look cute when you buy them but they need a lot of looking after for many years!

The Scottish SPCA Animal Welfare Centres take in many unwanted pets on a weekly basis. During December and the beginning of January they take in on average 600 dogs and cats plus many smaller animals, especially rabbits. 

The majority of the abandoned cats and dogs are older animals, although there are several puppies too.

Chief Inspector John Carle said:

One of the problems is that people do not think carefully enough before they get a pet. A puppy can be very appealing but they grow up, need house-training, regular walks, grooming and care and attention. Cats are not so dependent but still need care and companionship. Smaller animals need to be fed each day, have daily human contact and their hutches cleaned out regularly.

Take a look at the Scottish SPCA website and how you can get involved.

Why owning a pet is a commitment

Pets are a commitment. They need your care and attention every day of their lives. That can mean looking after them for many years - some cats will live for up to 20 years, as will some of the smaller breed dogs.

As the old slogan went 'a dog is for life not just for Christmas', so when you do get a pet remember that you have a commitment to look after it.

Tips for looking after your pet

Here are 11 tips to set you on the path of being a responsible pet owner:

  1. Think carefully before getting a pet and learn about what it needs - i.e. what it eats, where it should live etc.
  2. Make sure your pet is sociable and well trained.
  3. Make sure you provide a nutritious and well balanced diet.
  4. Take your pet to the vet regularly. This will make ensure it stays in top health.
  5. Provide suitable housing and bedding.
  6. Clean up after your pet and de-worm it regularly. (De-worming is when an animal is given a drug that kills bugs that live in its intestines)
  7. Protect against diseases. Your vet can give you advice.
  8. Prevent unwanted litters and neuter your pet when appropriate (Neutering or spaying is an operation that makes an animal unable to make babies). Again your vet can give you advice.
  9. Groom your pet regularly - make sure it's fur/coat is nice, clean and shiny!
  10. Control your pet and make sure it has an identity tag in case it gets lost.
  11. Take out pet insurance for dogs, cats and horses to cover against unexpected vet fees and third party liability (this covers any damage that your animal causes to some one else's property). 

It is also important to be aware that some types of pets need to be housed with other animals of their own species (e.g. guinea pigs), but other types need to be housed alone, and away from other animals (e.g. Syrian hamsters).

If you would like some more information about caring for different types of pets you can download free pet care leaflets from The Blue Cross.

Allow your pet to exercise

Like us, animals will get obese if they don't have the chance to go enough exercise. Therefore it is important that you assign time everyday for you pet to get some exercise. 

Different animals exercise in different ways. Dogs will need a daily walk, whilst hamsters can get exercise from an exercise ball. Do your research before you get your pet about how they can get exercise.