The dos and don’ts of choosing a new pet Tuesday 04 November 2014 @ 07:49

PuppiesBringing a new pet into the family is a big deal for everyone involved, but once the decision has been made, it is easy to get carried away with the excitement of choosing a little puppy, or kitten, or bird.

If you are visiting this site, you obviously care about doing the best thing by your pet animals. However, even the most ardent animal lovers can fall into a few common traps when choosing a new pet for their family. For instance, we all know not to buy from puppy farms, but would you really be able to spot a puppy farm if it came down to it? Before you lose your heart to your new best friend, read our dos and don’ts of choosing a new pet and save yourself (and your pet) a lot of heartbreak.

DON’T take in a stray.

It may seem like nature’s way of telling you to get a new pet, but when a stray dog or cat lands on your doorstep, more often than not it is actually a lost pet.

Take the animal to the vet to check for a microchip – this can help you trace the owner. Contact the local authorities and put out an alert via social media or sites such as Lost Pet Finders – if someone is looking for their pet, your paths will quickly cross. Having said this, keep the public details to a minimum and ask any callers to describe the animal.

Feral animals are not used to human interaction; they live in the bush and hunt wild animals or scavenge for food. If an animal appears to be comfortable being touched, fed and welcomed indoors, it has clearly experienced all these things before.

New Puppy

DO ask to see the parents

Pedigree pets can cost hundreds of dollars, so before you hand over the big bucks, you better be sure you’re getting your money’s worth. If the breeder is claiming a pedigree background, ask to see all the relevant papers. Always ask to see the animal’s parents. This may mean making second trip to visit a stud dog, but it’s worth the extra effort if you are serious about breeding or competing with your new pup.

DON’T consider pets which are listed as free

Good breeders will ask for a reasonable amount of money for their pups and kittens, to ensure that they end up in good homes. If a dog or cat is listed for free, you can bet there’s something fishy going on there. The animal may be ill, may have behavioural problems, or it may have been the victim of chronic negligence with an owner who genuinely doesn’t care about the animal’s welfare. More seriously, the pet may have been stolen or used in illegal activities. It is not worth the risk of bringing an unknown animal into your home, especially if you have other pets or small children. Stick with bona fide sellers.

DO arrange your own booster injections

Many breeders will seal the deal by telling you that their puppies/kittens have already been vaccinated. Nine times out of ten this is true, but with a young new pet it’s always better to be safe. If your breeder can’t show you the veterinary certificates, pay a visit to the vet yourself and make sure your new addition is properly protected and immunised.

DON’T suddenly introduce a new pet into a multi-pet household

Old Dog

Animals are very territorial, and they can be unpredictable when they feel that their position is being threatened. If you are determined to bring a new pet into a household with one or more animals, make sure the old and new pets are a good match. Make the first introduction in a neutral space where the existing pet won’t feel territorial, and make sure you divide your attention equally between the two pets to avoid jealousy.

DO take on an older pet

Puppies and kittens are an easy sell – they are basically the cutest things in the entire world. But older animals need love too, sometimes more so. Older pets have the benefit of coming pre-trained and with known temperaments and habits. By taking on an older pet, you are giving them a safe haven and a secure place to spend their retirement and what could be more rewarding than that?