OPINION: Tips on how to decide if a new pet is right for you

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Ben Burnhill, of Burnhill Pet Supplies, gives advice on pet ownership in his latest column.

But, if you’re looking to welcome a new animal into your home, how do you choose what’s right for your family?

Ben Burnhill, Burnhill Pet Supplies.

Ben Burnhill, Burnhill Pet Supplies.

Think about your lifestyle – it’s important to consider everything from how much time you can spend with the animal, what exercise they need, how much space they require (and you can provide) and what impact they’re likely to have on your home.

The pet you choose must match your family environment, routine and personality.

Do your research.

Even if you have your heart set on a specific animal there are literally hundreds of breeds to choose from.

It’s therefore crucial to dig a little deeper, understand the traits of different animals and know how they interact with children.

Know their life span.

Mice and hamsters only live for two to five years, dogs and cats have an average 12-16 year lifespan, whilst some parrots can live for up to 60 years. What did you have in mind?

It may sound callous, but it’s important in the long run that you can afford to look after your pet.

Work out the likely price of ongoing food and toys as well as healthcare and insurance premiums too.

Visit your local pet rescue centre.

Not only will you have the opportunity to provide a safe and loving home to a stray or abandoned animal, you’ll be able to talk through what you’re looking for with some very knowledgeable pet professionals.

Finally, sleep on it.

This is not the time to be impulsive.

A pet is for life, so think carefully about the decision and, if possible, involve everyone in your household.