Advice from a Vet on Choosing Your Pet

by Angela Hickey | 3 min read   January 7th, 2020

The decision to bring a pet into your life and home is a big one and requires plenty of consideration and research. That fluffy bundle that is so appealing now may grow into a large, energetic dog, or a cat that could live for more than twenty years.  The pet you choose will be with you for life, which means many years of commitment to their care and welfare. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly!

Some Questions to Consider

What is your current lifestyle and family set up?

  • Do you have children/grandchildren or is it likely you will in the future?
  • Are you willing to learn how to train both a pet and a child to live with each other safely and happily?

What is your living space?

  • Are you in an apartment or house?
  • Do you have an enclosed garden?

     Dogs are easily walked outdoors but cats will need a lot more care if kept fully indoors to prevent boredom and stress.

Do you prefer cats or dogs?

  • Cats are more independent in general
  • Dogs need more of your attention and interaction

What traits are you looking for in a pet?

  • Size
  • Temperament
  • Purpose of each breed – what were they bred to do? Can you meet that need?

     A small, active breed like a Jack Russel Terrier, for example, may need a lot more exercise and interactive play than a larger dog, like a greyhound, who wants to relax on the couch all day!

What is the risk of hereditary illnesses?

     Some pedigree breeds of cats and dogs have a high risk of serious illnesses, so do some research to avoid high risk breeds.

     Learn more about choosing a pedigree pet and their potential health problems.

How much time do you have to look after the needs of a new pet?

     Young puppies and kittens will need a big time commitment as they need to be fed often, house trained, and obedience trained. They also need play time, lap time, and walks outdoors as well as trips to the vet etc. An adult dog on its own will also need a lot of companionship from you.

How much training will your new pet need?

     Get guidance on this from your local vet. They can also refer you to trainers and obedience classes in your area.

Do you have other pets and will they be accepting of a new pet?

     A lot of thought and planning is needed before introducing a new pet to one who is already established in your home as it may feel like an invasion of their territory. Get guidance from your vet, trainer, Behaviourist or animal charities

Will your new pet need a lot of exercise?

     Providing this will be good for you both, but it does take commitment as it means getting out every day, in almost any weather!

Will your new pet need a lot of grooming?

     Long-coated breeds need regular care which can be time consuming and also pricey, if professional grooming is needed.

What will happen when you want to go away on holidays?

  • Do you have family members or friends willing to mind your pet
  • Will you need to pay for home visits or boarding?

What costs might be involved?

  • Purchase price
  • Vet bills
  • Pet insurance
  • Food
  • Bedding
  • Equipment
  • Boarding
  • Toys
  • Etc.

     Vet fees can run into the thousands for common conditions so insure as early as possible to get full, lifetime cover.

Will your new pet be eligible for pet insurance?

  • Age – pets over a certain age are subject to a percentage payment from you of all vet fees due to a higher risk of long term illnesses.
  • Pre-existing conditions – may lead to exclusions on your policy so the earlier you insure the better.
  • Breed – selected breeds may have some restrictions in cover

     Health insurance for your new pet is important to get as early as possible in order to get full cover for life For instance, Allianz Pet Insurance provides 6 weeks of free cover for pets from 8 weeks old, followed by lifelong cover as long as the annual premium is paid. Sadly, many breeds have hereditary conditions that put them at high risk for health issues, leading to high insurance claims and vet fees.

Also, keep in mind that a dog may develop behavioural issues. Choosing well and training well helps avoids these problems and contributes to a happy, healthy pet for life. For example, Allianz Pet Insurance covers behavioural problems treated by suitably qualified Animal Behaviourists (subject to the terms and conditions of your policy).


Pets come in many shapes, sizes, and temperaments; with some planning you can find one that will fit in with you and your lifestyle and become a valued and much loved member of your family. Taking time to research and fully understand the commitment you are making is important for both you and your pet.


This guidance is for general information purposes only.

Allianz p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Standard acceptance criteria and policy conditions apply.

Learn more about Allianz Pet Insurance.

Angela Hickey
Allianz in-house vet and qualified psychotherapist.