It’s always daunting becoming a parent, even if it’s not for the first time. Here are eight tips that the team at Emerald have put together to help you navigate through those first days and beyond.

Think Before You Buy

This seems logical, but should you buy a pet in the first place? If you have a small flat and work every day, don’t get a high-energy dog. In fact if you work every day and can’t take your dog, then maybe don’t get a dog at all – they will get anxious and destructive. With a cat flap in your back door, a cat may be a better option, or even house breeds such as Russian or English Blues?

And when you do buy, buy from a reputable breeder – puppy farms are a big problem in the UK and you may be buying a sick or even dying animal from someone without even realising it. You can look online to see those that come recommended.

Young Animals Need Extra Help

Listen to what your breeder says about vaccinations. Animals should have had their first jabs but should not socialise until their first course of vaccinations is complete.

Also, puppies and kittens have soft bones that are less well-formed than those of human babies. Particularly for puppies – don’t walk them for long distances for the first three months, and be careful when they play with bigger dogs that the play isn’t too rough. Puppies break bones easily, and that means big vet bills.

Your Dog Needs Training – And So Do You!

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There are plenty of good reasons to take a puppy training – socialisation, intellectual stimulation, learning from other dogs etc. But remember that training is just as important, of not more so, for owners. Get as much training as you can.

The three most common dogs that are given to dog shelters are Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Jack Russells and Yorkshire Terriers. They are all beautiful and well-tempered dogs, but without training and discipline can get out of hand. Owning a dog can be rewarding but it takes hard work, and some ‘cute’ breeds need more than others. Do some research on easy-to-train breeds if you have concerns.

Neutering – It’s The Right Thing To Do

Unless you have a show pet or a breeding pet, have them neutered. It stops unwanted litters, helps with health later in life (some animals are more susceptible to cancer if unneutered) and – for male dogs – can help them socialise.

Mealtimes Can Help Your Pet

The science of feeding pets has changed immensely in the last 30 years. There are still major pet food manufacturers producing ‘meat in gravy’ but it’s worth doing your own checks. Try and get a pet food that has as little cereal in (that’s like us filling up on white bread – your pet will be hungry and irritable in a short while. At least that’s how we feel!).

Even some of the top ‘meat’ brands can have 50% cereal in. For boisterous dogs, some vets recommend ‘raw’ feeding, so raw meat scraps, eggs, tinned fish etc – essentially a paleo diet for dogs! Raw bones are okay for dogs – they have stomach acid four times as strong as humans – but NEVER give cooked bones as they can splinter in the throat.

But Some Foods Are Literally Poison

A generation ago, people often fed their dogs anything. According to someone in the Emerald office, their golden retriever used to come with them to the village pub and was rewarded with a bowl of beer. Different times – we do not recommend that!

We now treat our pets more like humans than we ever did (note the dog name changes from Spot, Fluffy and Fido to Calvin, Henry or Chloe) yet we need to be more careful than ever about certain human foods. Some of these you may know (we mentioned cooked bones above) but some you may not:

·      Chocolate

·      Onions/Garlic/Chives

·      Corn on the Cob (particularly the cob)

·      Certain nuts, such as macadamia

·      Avocado

·      Chewing gum or anything containing xylitol sweetener

·      Alcohol

·      Grapes and raisins

·      (particularly for cats) Milk – cats are glucose intolerant!

Make sure that you keep anything dangerous out of reach of an enquiring pet. If your pet has eaten any of these, you must IMMEDIATELY go to the emergency vet. Even small amounts can cause liver or nerve damage or can be fatal.

Make Your Home A Proper Home For Your Pet Too

Longer-term, how do we make our ‘safe space’ a safe space for our pets too? Pets love socialising on the sofa or even bed with you, but they also like areas that are their own. For dogs, crates in the corner with a blanket over can be where your pet goes when they are tired, bothered by guests or noise, or just when they need a break. Make sure that they have some comfortable vet bed or blanket and don’t feel the urge to wash that too often. The smell is what makes it comforting to them. As any cat owner will know, cats just sleep on any fresh laundry!

Toys are also important. Dogs may want more sociable toys, such as tug toys or throw toys, Whereas cats need to scratch – better on a £30 scratching post than s £1000 sofa! And any pet loves a toy that makes a noise. Owners may disagree after an hour or so…

And Now The Boring But Important Bit

We all know that pets, with the right effort from us as owners, can be wonderful and rewarding companions. However, they can be expensive. Food, training, toys and kennelling (unless you travel with your pet) are all regular expenses to take into account when considering buying a pet.

But it’s in other areas that pet insurance becomes important. Pet insurance involves a regular monthly premium, but can mitigate costs in two important and potentially expensive situations:

·      Injury or illness to your pet. Of course we want to make sure that our pets get the best treatment, but costs are rising, and fast. Surgery on your pet can average £1,500 but can go up quickly. Treating a dog’s torn cruciate ligament for example, common in bigger dogs, can cost £3,500 and upwards. Insurance doesn’t cover regular vet attendance, vaccinations or neutering (again take those costs into account when buying) but for the unexpected, it can help

·      For dogs only, owners are liable for damage that dogs cause. When you take pet insurance, make sure that you can get suitable cover for this.

EmeraldPet Insurance

We pride ourselves in providing flexible cover levels, with optional extras such as foreign travel and emergency pet boarding if you fall ill. For a very competitive price we can give you peace of mind about those unexpected events in a pet’s life.

We’d love you to join Emerald’s extended pet family. Find out more at