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|Choosing your pet|
Can you care for a pet its whole life? Can you afford a pet? Do you know how to care for a pet? Is your home environment suited to a pet? Will a pet fit into your lifestyle? Is the pet you’re buying healthy?
Your local vet can provide the help and advice you need – so booking in a time to meet with them is a great first step.
Think before you get a dog
Animals need company, exercise/playtime, socialisation and training, so ask yourself whether you have the time and patience for your dog. How much time can you invest in meeting their needs?
There are always the basics – food, water, warmth, and shelter. But beyond this there are other aspects of care that are equally important – love and emotional needs, nutrition, exercise, play, and training. Under the Animal Welfare Act, every owner has a duty of care to their dog.
There will be food, training, medicines, and veterinarian fees to pay. As pets age, their health needs are also likely to increase so it’s recommended that you budget for their care taking a lifelong approach (the average age most dogs live is about 12 years, but can be longer).
Consider pet insurance – there are a number of providers to consider and various payment and coverage options.
Where is your pet going to live and do you have enough space? If you don’t have much room you might be better off purchasing a smaller dog rather than the big one you had in mind. Is there a park nearby or other suitable walking areas to take your dog for their daily exercise?
Check that no-one in your family is going to be allergic to your dog.
Think about what you want from your dog. Do you want an animal that will curl up on your lap quietly or one that you can take for big walks and expel some energy with? What experiences has the animal had to date in terms of its living situation? Does the environment it’s been in - for example, noisy and busy - match your home environment? Has the puppy been socialised, that is, been around other people and animals? If the dog has lived a very quiet home life you need to carefully introduce it to new experiences so that it isn’t afraid.
Once you've decided you are ready for a dog - look to source it in a way that supports animal welfare
In the way that ethics are guiding purchases for food and clothing, the NZVA suggests that prospective owners also consider ethical issues when obtaining a pet dog.
Adopt don’t buy
Don’t support puppy farms – even if you feel sorry for the puppy
Satisfy yourself that the mating pair selection was made with consideration to the health and wellbeing of the resulting puppies
Check out how the breeding bitch has been managed
Ensure that the puppy’s health has been well managed
Ensure that the puppy’s behavioural needs have been met
Select a breeder who will provide support and follow-up care
A responsible breeder will also be knowledgeable about the breed and the care of new puppies. They will be keen to provide follow-up support and you should receive printed advice about:
In the UK, the British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA jointly developed resources to make it clear what the responsibilities are of both buyers and sellers in relation to a puppy’s health and welfare. There is an excellent section with 40+ questions you can ask to make a fully informed decision about your puppy and to help you care for it. Find this information here and here.
First health checks for your pet
Book a visit with your veterinarian
Book an appointment with your veterinarian for your pet's first check up.
Find out what to expect at this visit here.
Seriously consider pet insurance
The NZVA strongly recommends that pet owners consider pet insurance. Please note that some insurance companies may charge more in insurance premiums, or not cover certain breeds, in relation to inherited disorders.
New Zealand Companion Animal Register
The NZVA and its special interest branch, the Companion Animal Veterinarians, have teamed up with other agencies to create a microchip-based national register that enables animal owners to locate lost (or found) animals - whatever their species. Find out more at www.animalregister.co.nz.