10 essential tips for first time pet owners

About to get your first pet? Then check out our top 10 tips for first time pet owners, for details of all those essentials you’ll need to consider.

Published

11 Jul 2018

How to care for your first pet

Welcoming a new pet into your home can be an exciting and sometimes life-changing event. But if you’re a first time owner, you might be a little nervous about getting things right. Check out our handy guide to find out everything you need to know about caring for your new pet.

family with dog at vet

1. Shopping for pet supplies

What you need, will depend on what kind of pet you’re getting. Here are a few essentials no new dog or cat owner should be without.

  • A comfortable bed or cage for your pet to sleep in.
  • Pet food and bowls for them to eat and drink out of.
  • A few toys to keep them stimulated and entertained.
  • Grooming supplies to keep your pet’s coat, teeth and claws clean and healthy.

Another little help: For more information on the things you might need, check out our guide to buying a cat or guide to buying a dog.

2. Setting up a pet-friendly space

To help your pet feel right at home, it’s a good idea to set up a space that’s just for them. Put their bed in a quiet corner where they can relax and sleep undisturbed. If you’re getting a cat, it’s important to make sure their sleeping spot is in a separate space from their litter tray.

3. Registering with a vet

Look into local vets before you get your pet so that you’re ready to register with one right away. Then you’ll know where they are and who to call if you have an emergency. You should also book in your pet’s first check-up as soon as possible after you bring them home.

man playing fetch with dog

4. Choosing pet insurance

Pet insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatments or emergency care if your pet becomes unwell unexpectedly or is injured in an accident. If you want to make sure your pet is covered from the get go, it’s a good idea to choose a policy in the weeks before their arrival.

You can find out more about our pet insurance here.

5. Bringing your pet home

Introducing your pet to its new home is very exciting but try to stay calm so they don’t get too overwhelmed. Let them investigate at their own pace and have food and treats on hand to reward good behaviour.

Once they have started to settle in, you can start basic training such as teaching them some simple commands and toilet training.

6. Working out a routine

A routine will help your pet get used to their new surroundings. Try and stick to regular times for feeding, walking, playing and grooming.

7. Make an exercise plan

Dogs need to be walked and exercised regularly. How much exercise they need, will depend on what breed they are - some breeds are naturally more energetic than others. Find out more in our guide to different pet breeds.

If you have a cat, you need to decide whether they will stay indoors or be allowed outside. If they will be staying indoors, you will need to help them get enough exercise by playing with them regularly.

family with dog at vet

8. Sorting out dental care

The idea of brushing your pet’s teeth may seem like a strange one at first, but if you want to help avoid vet’s bills in the future, it’s actually a really important habit to get into.  Start training when they’re young and use pet-friendly toothpastes and brushes.

9. Microchipping

By having a tiny microchip with a unique code placed under your pet’s skin, you’re giving them the best chance of being found if they are lost or stolen. Dogs over the age of eight weeks are legally required to be microchipped so be sure to book an appointment early on.

10. Decide whether to neuter or not

There are a few medical and practical benefits to having your pet neutered – females may live longer and your pet may behave better  – but the choice is yours. Chat it over with your vet before making a decision.

Enjoy bonding with your pet

Now that you know the essentials and have everything you need, you can focus on getting to know your pet and helping them have a long and happy life.

Want even more pet inspiration and tips? Check out the rest of our pet guides here.

Important information

The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to the subject matter but does not constitute expert financial advice specific to your own situation. All facts and figures were correct at time of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.

Find out more about our Pet Insurance