Choosing a pet

Getting a new pet can be very exciting but it’s important to choose a pet that suits you. There are a number of key things to think about before making a decision, luckily there are lots of resources out there to help you make the best decision for you and your future pet.

Which pet is right for me and my lifestyle?

All pet owners have a legal responsibility to help protect the welfare of animals. This includes considering key factors such as:

  • a suitable environment (place to live)
  • a suitable diet
  • to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • to be housed with, or apart from, other animals (if applicable)
  • to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease

To live a happy life together one of the most important decisions you can make is choosing the right pet for your lifestyle. You may want to consider which pet would best suit the place you live, how much time you have to spend with the pet, especially time at home.

If you can’t find what you are looking for or you are concerned about your pet, we always recommend that you contact your vet.

Most vets offer pre-purchase consultations. We encourage all those thinking about buying or adopting a pet to arrange to speak with their local vet to receive advice on the health and welfare.

How much does it cost to keep a pet?

Once you have decided which pet is right for and your situation, its important to consider the costs involved. These include the 5 basic animal welfare needs. Some costs include:


BVA strongly supports the practice of neutering cats and dogs to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens, view our policy in full.


On 6 April 2016 it became law for all dogs in the UK to have a microchip, it is the keeper's responsibility to ensure their dog is microchipped and registered on one of the authorised commercial databases.

Microchipping plays a key role in keeping pets safe, and allowing stray animals to be quickly reunited with their owners. It is important that you get your microchip from a trustworthy source, linked with a UK database, and that it is implanted by a trained veterinary professional. You also need to keep your details up to date if you change numbers or move house.


In order to ensure your pet has a healthy and happy life, we strongly support methods of preventative healthcare. Prevention is better than cure, so speak to your vet about protecting your future pet from what are often fatal infectious diseases. See our advice leaflet on vaccinations (PDF 184 KB).

Other costs

Other costs can include food and exercise, when your pet falls ill, grooming, training or kennelling while you’re away. See our advice leaflet on the benefits of pet insurance (PDF 108 KB).

Costs depend on the animal you choose and there is a wealth of UK based advice online to give you a rough idea of the amounts involved.

The Animal Welfare Foundation has produced a range of helpful leaflets for pet owners. These guides help to safeguard pets, educate owners and support vets in their daily work.

BVA supports the regulation of pet travel - both commercial and non-commercial - that enables the safe and legal movement of pets, view our policy to see more information about how to travel with your pet safety.

Buying a puppy

The Puppy Contract has been developed by RSPCA and the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) to empower puppy buyers and help them to avoid the problems that can arise from buying a puppy from an irresponsible breeder. It can be used for all puppies, whether they are pedigree or not, and by any breeder or seller, including rescue centres. You can find extensive resources about buying a puppy on our Dog Health and Welfare pages.

#BreedtoBreathe campaign

BVA is campaigning to raise awareness of the issues brachycephalic animals face as a result of their breeding. Brachycephaly refers to a short skull shape, which gives the appearance of a flattened face. It can affect dogs; namely breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs. These breeds can suffer with a range of life-limiting health issues including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Eye disease
  • Inability to give birth naturally

We are working to get the message out to dog owners to think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead of prioritising appearance over welfare.

Read our policy position in full.

Canine Health Schemes

If you are considering buying a puppy, its important to be aware that all pedigree and crossbred dogs could suffer from inherited diseases which are passed on from parents to their puppies. BVA and the Kennel Club work to provide a number of health screening programmes - the Canine Health Schemes (CHS).

The Canine Health Schemes screen for a wide range of inherited diseases. This provides breeders and owners with the correct information to make responsible decisions when considering what dogs to use in their breeding programmes.

See the full range of schemes.

What to do if you find a lost pet

Pets can become strays if they are lost or abandoned, or if they are stolen. Strays are often hungry, frightened and sometimes sick and injured. The guidance for what to do if you find a stray is different depending on where you live in the UK: