Many prospective pet owners living in flats find themselves questioning whether having a pet is doable or not. It is a fair question, and one that should require a lot of consideration for both sides of the argument.
It is the human who will mainly reap the the benefits of having a pet while living in a flat. Pets provide companionship and can help us de-stress in our busy lives. Pets can even help with various health issues, as evidenced in some of our previous blog articles.
However, it’s not all bad news for pets. Some pets do just as well living in a flat as living in the countryside, as long as they have a person to love and care for them.
On the other hand, when a pet has been adopted without full consideration to various factors, it can end up causing ill health and stress to the pet, not to mention expensive damage to the home! Far from us to wanting to enter into a debate, we know very well that many owners living in flats do successfully have pets, whether it’s a dog, a cat, a goldfish or a pet turtle.
If you are living in a flat and are considering owning a pet, here are a few tips and matters to consider before you make the plunge towards pet ownership.
- Suitability: Pets come in all sizes and have different needs as a result. Some pets are simply not made for living in small spaces, so before you get a pet, consider its needs and chose the right pet for the right location. It is also essential to think about how much time the pet will be spending on it’s own in the flat, and whether this is likely to be a problem. Discuss your thoughts with your local vet or vet nurse to get a professional opinion on your particular situation.
- Maintenance: Ensure that you properly dispose of your dog’s waste and regularly clean your cat’s litter. This will avoid bad smells and unsightly mess for your neighbours. Other pets such as birds, hamsters and rabbits also require frequent maintenance, so make sure you research or ask about all that is required before committing to owning a pet.
- Noise and general behaviour: Being a pet owner means being responsible for your pet’s good behaviour. Some people are scared or do not like animals, so you need to ensure you respect their privacy and choices by managing your pet’s level of noise (especially at night or early mornings) and prevent your pet from wandering about unchecked.
- Medical checks/Vaccination: Your pet should be up-to-date on all vaccinations, be spayed or neutered, and be healthy to prevent the spread of avoidable diseases. It is advisable to have cats and dogs microchipped in case of loss or theft of your pet.
- Exercise: Being in a flat means your pet may be in danger of not getting as much exercise as it needs, so make sure you set aside plenty of time daily for playtime and/or outdoor walks and runs off-leash (depending on the animal of course!), in order to prevent potential weight problems or health issues. It may be necessary to hire a dog walker if your dog is set to be left alone for a significant length of time daily. You should also provide environmental enrichment suitable to the animal – for example, scratch posts for cats are essential, and rabbits need items to chew on to wear down their constantly growing teeth. Invest some time in researching the best way to occupy your potential pet’s time before you take the plunge of pet ownership.
- Cost: Having a pet involves costs: food, accessories, vaccinations, and parasite prevention are the basic needs your pet will have to be happy and healthy. Pet insurance may also be necessary or at least a special fund you can use when your pet needs to go to the vet or in case of accident. If you need to hire a dog walker, make sure to factor this in as well.
- Location: If your flat is on the first floor or above, do not assume your pet will not attempt to jump down or won’t fall from the balcony, as this is, unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence that vets see the consequences of too often. Ensure you keep an eye on your pet when he is on the balcony or the window sill.
If you consider all of these factors carefully and put a bit of time and effort into research before you decide to adopt a pet, it is far more likely you will make the correct choice and make a happy home for everybody!