It is a well shared belief that if you own a dog or cat, your life expectancy can be increased by a number of years. I am sure that this is true in the majority of cases, but as the owner of a gorgeous kitten and young rescue Labrador, am an expert on the dos and don’ts of a pet owner, and with all of the wonderful benefits of these blissful animals, there is still a lot to consider before committing to the joys of pet ownership.
Before you decide to take on an animal, consider it carefully. Look at your lifestyle, family, environment and bank account. Because owning an animal does not come cheap and does come with a lot of responsibility.
Cats are probably easier and cheaper than dogs, because they are far more independent, and can be left at home for longer relatively unsupervised, and if you are not near a main road, with the aid of a cap flap, can even be allowed to wander around outside when you are not at home.
If you are considering owning a dog, this is far greater a deal, in that they need walking, grooming and a lot of attention.
Both need injections, flea and deworming treatments, pet insurance and care when you are away.
Again cats are easier to leave under the watchful eye of a neighbour you trust, who can feed and watch they are in good spirits. Dogs however need to be walked and fed several times a day, and so unless you have helpful friends, family members or dog walkers, then think carefully when taking on a dog.
I am not being the voice of doom and gloom because I love my pets, as does my husband and kids, but you have to sit down as a family, and write down all the expectations and expenditure as explained, plus the food, so that it fits into the family budget and lifestyle.
Explain this to your kids too, so that they understand that a pet comes with a lot of upkeep and responsibility.
The cost per month for a cat or dog can be anything from £40-200 per month, depending upon the amount of cover that you need if you are working or out of the house for hours at a time.
For instance, if you are thinking about owning a larger dog, it will need a lot more exercise, so you should source a local dog walker who does not cost an arm and a leg before you decide to go ahead.
We have found a local doggie day care ‘paradise’ where we can drop our Labrador off for the day to play with other dogs for only £8 for the entire day, and if we are away just £16 per night or two days.
This is a real ‘find’ and without this facility we could not afford the expenditure of a walker or dog minder or carer, who can be as much as £20-35 a day.
Also on the plus side, if you decide which variety of food is good for your pet, you can buy it in monthly online which will bring down the cost. We have gone for an organic healthy eating variety – and keep it in the freezer for both animals, and they are thriving on it.
So, having explained the considerations, if you are all in agreement, or if you live alone, and feel the desire to own a pet, it will be one of the most rewarding and life enhancing decisions you have made.
It will add a new dimension to your household and your lives, is a well-known distraction from depression in the elderly, and will give you years of happiness and love that you will cherish forever.