Buying a Pet 101

Buying a pet has become a new fashion! During Lockdown in the UK there has been a sharp rise in pet ownership. Today we are sharing a few suggestions for how and where to buy pets from, to keep yourself and your animals safe and healthy.

If you are considering buying a pet, you may also like to read our post on Keeping Pets Safe. 

The first piece of advice is to never give pets as presents, this can create a link between animals and commodities. While you may link a special occasion with the responsibility of pet ownership, perhaps a certain age or accomplishment, the person needs to be part of the decision making and responsibility discussion.

Which Pet?

Deciding on the most suitable pet for your family life and situation is the most important step. Lots of research can help you narrow down the options. Always remember to consider how long each animal can live, and how large they can grow, as well as what/how much they eat. You also need to be realistic about how much time their care will take, and discuss who will take responsibility for the different aspects.

Speak to people that already own the type of animal you are thinking of, they will have lots of experience to share and word of mouth is useful to find the right vet (you may need a specialist vet) and other suppliers. It may also be a good way to get second hand equipment.

This brings us onto the potential cost of a new pet, there are likely to be costs for bedding, enclosures, daily equipment, insurance, regular health needs e.g. worming, food and possibly even more things! Make sure you think about the ‘start up’ and ongoing expenses, as well as any less frequent needs. For example an animal that is likely to grow may need a second (or third) habitat during their lifetime. 

Get copies of all paperwork, including ownership, and keep them somewhere safe, with a photo of you and your pet together.

Rescue Pets

One popular source of pets are from rescue centres. These can be national organisations or local, but they are likely to require a home visit before allowing you to re-home. A rescue pet may have additional health or behavioural needs, and the re-homing staff should give you a thorough background (as far as possible). They may also offer broader advice and will ask for a donation or fixed fee for re-homing. Animals from rescue are usually micro-chipped and spayed already.

Some rescue’s specialise in re-homing older animals or those with more complex needs. If you feel up to the task, Wonky Pets is a good option.


Another source may be a breeder, going ‘direct’ to the source. Make sure that you check the credentials of any breeder, that they are part of a larger organisation and that you see the animal in it’s current home. Often these animals will have certification or similar to show their ancestry.

Good breeders will have a cooling off period, and will usually allow you to pick from a litter and then return when the animal is old enough to leave it’s mother. This is usually the most expensive option.

There may also be a rescue for a specific breed of dog or cat, and if you are only considering one type you can search for the relevant rescue.

Pet Shops

Many pet shops also sell ‘live’ animals. Make sure you check their credentials as you would for any rescue or breeder. You may feel more confident buying from a high street name, but their staff may not be as knowledgeable about the individual animal. It’s still important to do your research.

Private Sales

This could be a friend with a litter of kittens, or a post on social media. Please be very careful that you are buying from a reputable source. If a deal is too good to be true… When collecting an animal always make sure someone knows where you are going and go with a friend if possible. Never buy a pet without having seen it ‘live’ and in it’s normal environment.

Other Ideas

Often your local vet will have a list of pets they have treated that are looking for a new home.

If you are looking for an unusual animal, there may be local groups that support each other with care and are aware of pets in need of homes.

Local dog walkers often know about dogs in the area too. The Kennel Club also have a useful tool to suggest breeds that may suit your lifestyle. It can make a helpful starting point.

Buying a pet is a big decision, but the joy they can bring is worth the effort.