London life can be stressful and coming home to spend time with your pet can be a great way to regain your sanity. Walking a dog can be a way to meet people and if you have children, pets can help them develop a sense of responsibility and compassion. The difficulty is that although a pet might be a really good addition to your London life, the constraints of living in a city can make looking after a pet tricky.
You need to be realistic about the type of animal that you can look after: you want the animal to be happy and you want to enjoy your pet, not feel that it is a burden. Your accommodation is a key factor, small flats and big dogs are not a good mix. Does your work take you away for long periods of time? Your location also needs consideration, busy roads, neighbours with cats or dogs, the proximity of a park, the restrictions of your landlord, will all affect your choice of pet.
Then there’s the cost of keeping a pet. London life is already expensive, so you need to be realistic with what you can afford. For larger animals you should consider taking out pet insurance so you don’t find yourself faced with expensive vets’ bills, in case your pet should need medication or an operation in the future. Then there’s the cost of bedding, toys and food. Search online to find affordable options and consider buying pet food in bulk to save money.
A great option to combat loneliness and help you socialise with other dog walkers. They can also be good security and with so many breeds to choose from you can find a breed to suit your living space. If you’re renting, you’ll need to consult your landlord/flatmates before purchasing a dog. Best suited to people who work from home, so you can let them out for the toilet and take them on walks easily. Best avoided by people who work long hours with little time to exercise or play with their dog.
Less demanding than dogs, cats can come in and out of their flap as they please, so you don’t have to worry as much about letting them out. Some breeds are very cuddly (Burmese and Siamese) whilst others are more independent. Also consider that some breeds require more grooming. Cat allergies are more common than other pet allergies. If you have small children, ensure the litterbox is located out of reach.
SNAKES AND REPTILES
No walks or ‘cuddles’ required, however, the maintenance of their environment is time consuming. Set up costs are also high, and you should also factor in energy costs for heating/lighting. They can be a fascinating pet, especially for children, but one that requires a lot of research before purchasing.
MICE AND HAMSTERS
A great first pet for children. They require simple maintenance although tanks must be cleaned regularly to prevent disease and bad odours. Mice breed easily, so if you’re getting more than one, ensure you determine the sexes first or you may find that you suddenly have a lot of mice.
RABBITS AND GUINEA PIGS
Another great first pet for children, but also a good option for anyone who wants a pet to cuddle, look after and play with. Although it’s possible to have both indoors, it’s advised to have some outdoor space. A walled courtyard is perfect as you can easily let the animals out securely. Remember to put your pet away at night to protect them from foxes. It’s possible to keep rabbits as house rabbits and they can be trained to use cat flaps and even litter trays.