Pet Tips

All You Need To Know Before Getting A Dog Or Cat

Whilst animals are often considered extra members of the family, it's worth weighing up the pros and cons of becoming a pet owner before making any decisions. Getting a dog, a cat or a small animal isn't as easy as it looks. There's a lot to consider before buying or rescuing one.

A few things to consider:

  • Can I afford the vet bills, the food costs and any other expenses
  • Am I able to care for a pet for as long as it may need
  • Are you at home often enough? - People with demanding jobs and busy lives should consider whether they can dedicate enough time to a pet
  • Can you exercise the pet and satisfy its' needs - Do you have the energy and inclination to walk a dog. This needs to be more than once a day
  • Can you have a pet where you live - Rented accommodation often has strict regulations regarding pets
  • Do you have the time and patience to train a pet
  • Will you remember to get a pet regularly flead and wormed and vaccinated each year
  • Do you have the time to settle in a new dog or cat
  • Do you have the space for a dog
  • Is everybody in the family happy about getting a dog or cat
  • Will a new pet fit in with the rest of the family


Dogs are very different to cats. They require a lot of exercise, a lot of training and need access to outside space in order to relieve themselves.

Choosing the breed of dog you want is also very hard as there are many things to bare in mind:

  • Do you want a large, medium or small dog
  • Consider the dogs coat - for example, a non shedding dog. Dogs with long coats need to be groomed regularly to prevent matting, whereas a short coated dog may need less grooming
  • How easy is the breed to handle - a German Shepherd would be much stronger on the lead than a miniature Schnauzer

Different dogs have varied life spans, some live longer than others but don't let that put you off certain breeds.

Most dogs love attention and will be loyal companions - it's almost like having a child that need constant attention. Nurturing the dog and training it how YOU want will define and shape their behaviour.

All dogs should be microchipped, neutered and vaccinated.

REMEMBER - all dogs are different. Just like people, dogs have different traits and personalities.

Ellie looking happy while playing on the floor outside


Cats are very independent and although some people keep their cat indoors, it is beneficial they have access to outside space to roam and explore. Because of their exploratory nature, all cats should be neutered and microchipped as they could easily end up pregnant or go missing.

Like dogs there are hundreds of breeds of cat and whilst some are pedigree, the most common house cat would be either the domestic short hair, domestic long hair or semi-long hair.

Two Cats Laying Down


Before you can book holidays and weekends away, as a responsible pet owner you need to consider the welfare of your cat or dog.

  • Where is the pet going to stay?
  • Will it be safe
  • Can I afford a pet sitter/boarding kennels/cattery

Do lots of research - visit kennels and catteries before booking your pet in. Interview possible sitters and walkers before leaving and most importantly, make sure you are HAPPY before you go.

Small Animals

Like cats and dogs, small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters need just as much care and attention.

Despite not needing vaccinations like cats and dogs do, small animals still require all the maintenance that comes with being a responsible owner. Vet appointments are still important, as is grooming and general well-being.

Basic First Aid, Toxins and Poisons

First Aid:

Remember to not panic and always be careful not to put yourself in any danger.


Apply a pressure pad to the wound and hold it firmly for 5 – 10 minutes. Make sure the direct pressure is consistently maintained. If blood seeps through the pressure pad, place another one on it.

Bone, Joint, muscle and tendon injuries

If limbs are injured, move the animal as little as possible. If bone is exposed cover with a light dressing or tea towel to keep clean.

Do not use a splint.

Hypothermia (exposure to extreme cold)

If your pet is wet, dry quickly with towels. Wrap your pet up in many layers of blankets / towels.

Hyperthermia (heatstroke)

Decrease your pet’s temperature by wrapping cool wet towels around it and placing near a fan. Be careful not to cool them down too much though.

Give your pet plenty of water to drink.

Massage your pet’s legs vigorously to maintain blood flow

Eye injuries

Seek veterinary advice immediately

Insect stings

Do not remove stings with tweezers – this can make the pain worse and increase the risk of a reaction.

If there is any swelling around the animals face or neck make sure that you take them to your veterinary surgery ASAP.


Signs of choking include retching, drooling and pawing at the mouth. Contact your vet immediately and if anything is stuck in your pet’s throat only remove if it is safe to do so.


If your pet comes into contact with or eats anything poisonous contact your vet for advice. Try to give them as much information as possible- bring the packet / plant to the surgery if you have it.

Do not try to make your pet sick unless advised to by your vet.

If there are any poisons on your pet’s skin- wash off with water.


  • Chocolate - contains Theobromine a chemical that can be fatal to pets
  • Caffeine
  • Grapes, Currants, Raisins and Sultanas
  • Onions, Garlic & Chives
  • Macadamia nuts & Peanuts
  • Salt
  • Alcohol - including household items such as mouthwashes, glue, and perfumes
  • Xylitol - often found in sugar free chewing gum / sweets
  • Foods that are rich in Iron and vitamin D
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -  such as ibuprofen

If you would like more information please visit  OR CALL ANIMAL POISON LINE ON 01202 509000

Poisonous plants:

  • Lilies - Such as Tiger and Arum are poisonous, especially to cats. Pets can be poisoned by eating or chewing the leaves, stems or flower heads. Even the pollen can be harmful, as cats may lick this off their fur after brushing against the flower head
  • Lily of the valley: Lily of the valley flowers and leaves (often used in bouquets) contain a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems, fits and collapsing in dogs and cats.
  • Daffodil: All parts of the daffodil are harmful. Dogs sometimes eat the bulbs, but even a small bite can kill a small animal. Even drinking the water in which cut daffodils have stood is potentially hazardous.
  • Conkers and Acorns - toxic to dogs when ingested
  • Cherry laurel: This hedging plant is often used in gardens and public parks. The most common cause of dog poisoning is from eating or chewing these leaves.
  • Yew trees

Never 'watch and wait' If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, act fast and contact a vet for advice immediately.

Poisoning can cause death, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, convulsions, abnormal heart rhythm and kidney failure. Effects may be delayed for several days and may be permanent.

Fred 2
Afternoon Snooze