The New Pet Owner Checklist

The new pet owner checklist

First published 25 May 2018 | Last updated 20 November 2020

In the UK we're fond of our pets, with almost half of the nation owning one, and they can very quickly become part of the family. We've put together a new pet owner checklist to help you prepare for your new arrival.

Here's a selection of some of the most important things to remember when purchasing a new pet.




The average cost of this usually ranges between 10 and 15, but it is a necessary expense.

As of April 2016 microchipping became compulsory for all UK dog owners and any dogs found without a microchip will result in owners facing a fine of up to 500.

Book In necessary caccinations

Puppies can start their vaccinations from 8-weeks old, and will require a second set of injections between 2 and 4 weeks after. It is worth checking with the rehoming centre or breeder that you are getting your dog from that they've had their injections.

There is also a range of booster vaccinations that dogs will require throughout their lifetime.

Dog insurance

Dog Insurance, although not currently a legal requirement, is a key consideration for many new pet owners to avoid costly surprises should a pet fall ill at a later date and require vet treatment.

In addition, with some policies, you can benefit from alternative treatments such as homeopathy and hydrotherapy.

For more information about Dog Insurance, take a look at our simple dog insurance guide.

Dog looking cute


Dog bed

Dog beds range in a variety of prices, depending on size and sturdiness. Make sure that you're looking at the right sizing requirements for your pooch - a bed designed for a Chihuahua may be uncomfortable for a Greyhound!

Grooming supplies

From shampoo to combs and nail-clipping tools, the cost of dog grooming supplies can add up over time. If you own a long-haired breed, you'll probably want to keep your pooch groomed to perfection to avoid having fur falling over his eyes!


When it comes to dog toys, there is so much to choose from. These essentials make puppies and dogs extremely happy and busy - so they're great for exercise too. It's important to consider the type of toy you get as well; after all, larger dogs may swallow smaller toys while they play.


For new pets, a lead that fits their size is essential. Don't forget that puppies tend to grow out of theirs quickly, so you may need to keep purchasing them as your dog grows up.

Food and water bowls

These are crucial items for anyone looking to get a dog. You may have to think about the size of the bowl you purchase, as small bowls may prove uncomfortable for a large dog to eat and drink from.

Food and treats

To complete your checklist of essential items for your dog, food and treats are a must! There are different foods created specifically for certain breeds or for different growth stages; this means that the food and treats you purchase may depend on the dog you will have, and whether he's still a puppy or not.




Whilst some cats are strictly indoor cats, many are allowed to leave the home as they wish. As the average price ranges between 15 and 20, having your cat microchipped can ensure that should your cat get lost, it is easier to reunite them with you.

And with a shocking 9 out of 10 cats not being microchipped as of August 2018, it's worth putting on your new pet checklist.

Book In Necessary Vaccinations

Vaccinations are also crucial for cats and kittens. The RSPCA says that kittens should receive two sets of vaccinations: one at nine weeks old and another at three months old. The first set protects the kitten against diseases, while the second works as a booster to their immune system. Thereafter, twelve monthly booster vaccinations may be needed.

Common illnesses in cats that can be prevented through vaccinations include feline flu and the feline leukaemia virus.

Cat Insurance

We've all heard the myths behind cats having nine lives. However, failing to cover your cat with appropriate cat insurance can prove incredibly costly should your cat be involved in an accident.

With vet bills continually on the rise, it can be better to be safe than sorry.


The average price for this is usually between 40 and 80 for a male, and between 50 and 100 for a female cat, but it does depend on location.

Neutering and spaying not only prevents any unwanted pregnancies but can also help prevent tumours and other infections and diseases.

Cat chilling out


Cat bed

Cats seek comfort and warmth when curling up for a catnap and may appreciate a comfortable bed. Of course, as we all know, cats go wherever they please, so your cat may end up sleeping on the bed or cosied up on the rug by the fire anyway!

Litter box and scooper

If you are looking to get an indoor cat, a litter box with a scooper is an essential item to purchase ahead of time. Some vets advise that you should provide one extra litter box for your cat, as it may help to prevent inappropriate urination around the house.

There are also many types of boxes to choose from, from open boxes to enclosed ones, for example.

Kitty litter

Your cat's litter tray needs to be cleaned out fairly regularly, as cats thrive on cleanliness and may choose not to use the box if they don't consider it clean enough.


Ensuring that your cat has a balanced diet can be really important for their overall health. There are hundreds of variations on the market to choose from - for the best choice for your cat, seek advice from your vet.

Food and water bowls

Choosing the right bowl for your kitty is important, especially when it comes to how sanitary and easy to clean it is. Stainless steel or ceramic are great solutions, as they don't absorb odours that may discourage cats from using them.

You may also want to consider a bowl with a wide mouth in order to prevent whisker fatigue or discomfort.

Toys and something to climb!

Cats love to climb. Both kittens and adult cats often enjoy being in high places and surveying their territory from above, where they can keep an eye on everything. For this reason, having a cat tree or climbable places can help your new cat feel right at home.

Felines love to chase things and often enjoy practicing their hunting skills with toy mice or small feathered plushies.

Another thing you probably need to consider is something for your cat to scratch. Be it a post or a toy, it's important that your pet is able to do it. 

Scratching is a normal feline behaviour and can occur due to several reasons, such as to remove the dead outer layer of their claws or to mark their territory.

If your cat doesn't have a specific item they can scratch, he may be doing it on your brand-new sofa...

Fish, rabbits and birds

A fluffy rabbit



Rabbits can be prone to diseases such as myxomatosis and Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease, which causes intense suffering. Through vaccinations, these conditions may be prevented.


Fish tank

Fish tanks should be suited to the individual needs of the fish that you decide to purchase, and a good retailer should be able to offer guidance on this. With some fish requiring a greater level of care, time should be taken to ensure that you find the best tank for the job.

Rabbit hutch

Protecting your rabbit from the dangers that living outside can bring, such as predators like cats and foxes, means that an appropriate hutch should be sought.

Bird cage

Choosing the right bird cage will depend on several factors, such as the types of birds you have and how many. Your birds should be able to feel comfortable and safe, so always do your research before purchasing a cage.

It is always worthwhile preparing for a new animal that you are bringing home to ensure that you're catering to their needs. But even with preparation, the unexpected can still happen. This is where a good pet insurance policy may come in handy.

You can compare pet insurance quotes for cats and dogs using our online form in a matter of minutes.


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