What to expect, when you are expecting a new pet

If you’re looking at bringing home a pet, here’s what you need to consider

Wednesday , 22 May 2024 by Sue Hamilton

Given they support pets and their owners (to the tune of paying more than $29.9 million in claims for the year ended 30 June 2023), Southern Cross Pet Insurance, has plenty of insight into what you need to think about before bringing a new fur baby home.

Results from the Southern Cross Healthy Futures Report suggests 61 per cent of New Zealanders are pet owners, which is an increase of 7 per cent since 2020, and this shows no sign of slowing down.

Southern Cross Pet Insurance Sales Manager and former Vet Nurse Kerri Murray says, "We know humans benefit from welcoming a pet into their homes (in fact 88 per cent of us say it improves their mental health and wellbeing), but it's absolutely essential to understand the responsibilities and commitments involved. Much like bringing a new (human) baby home, we encourage prospective pet owners to educate themselves about the responsibilities and commitments involved.

“By taking the time to research, plan, and prepare, prospective pet owners can provide a loving and stable environment for their new companion. It’s important your new pet is set up for success so you can enjoy the multiple benefits that come from your new family member."

To help people make informed decisions, Southern Cross Pet Insurance has a whole lot of tips and tricks available here. They recommend focusing on some key things outlined below for all potential pet parents:

Research breeds and species: Take the time to research different pet breeds and species to find the best fit for your family, lifestyle, living situation, allergies and preferences. Consider factors such as breed size, temperament, activity level, grooming needs, and compatibility with children or other pets. A Labrador will get big and will be better off with a grassy, fenced back yard while a smaller breed like a Bichon Frise may not need the same sized area. You will also need to make sure there’s room for toileting and that it’s easy to clean!

The same applies for cats – larger cats will need more room to move, while cats with heavy coats will likely need more grooming than a domestic shorthair.

Evaluate your lifestyle: Assess your daily routine, work schedule, and living arrangements to determine if you have the time, energy, and resources to properly care for a pet. Pets require attention, exercise, training, and companionship, so it is essential to ensure your lifestyle can accommodate these needs. Getting out and about for a decent daily walk, regardless of your pooch’s size is good for you and them. Keeping fit means you’ll both be around together for longer. But if your work or family commitments won’t allow this you may need to re-think your options.

Regulations: Be sure you are aware of Council by-laws in your area. There may be limits on the number of dogs you can have and the area you need for them to be safe. You’ll also need to register your pup and micro-chip them too. Different public spaces have different rules and regulations for how and where you can exercise your dog too. There are generally no limits on cats and the number you may have, although you will want to ensure they have a safe space to play and to toilet. If you can do what you can to prevent them from going after birds, that will make a big difference to protecting our bird population.

Desexing cats and dogs should also be a priority to prevent unwanted pregnancies and, especially with dogs, improved safety while out walking. Female dogs in heat can attract unwanted attention from male dogs!

Financial considerations: You should understand the financial responsibilities associated with pet ownership, including initial adoption or purchase costs, veterinary care, food, grooming, supplies, training, and potential unexpected medical expenses. Budgeting for these expenses is crucial for providing for your pet's needs throughout their lifetime. There are ways to save money, but one thing you should never do is share human food which isn’t safe for dogs (or cats). Check out for more information about what NOT to feed your pet. And be sure to check out these helpful hints from our friends at Pet Direct on essentials to get for your puppy and kitten.

Veterinary care: Schedule regular wellness checks and vaccinations with a veterinarian to maintain your pet's health and prevent common illnesses. Establishing a relationship with a trusted veterinarian is crucial for providing ongoing medical care and addressing any health concerns that may arise. The NZ Veterinary Association has some helpful tips here: and

Pet insurance: Consider investing in pet insurance to help mitigate the cost of veterinary care in case of accidents, illnesses, or emergencies. Pet insurance can provide financial peace of mind and ensure that your pet can receive the necessary medical treatment when needed.

Long term commitment: Pets which are well cared for can live for many years. Consider the potential changes in your life circumstances, such as moving, starting a family, or changes in employment, and how they may impact your ability to care for a pet over time.

Training and socialisation: Commit to providing proper training and socialisation for your pet to ensure they develop good behaviour and manners. Puppy training classes or obedience training for dogs, as well as early socialisation with people and other animals, are essential for a well-adjusted pet. SCPI recommends checking out the advice from Mark Vette, one of the New Zealand’s best known animal behaviourists.

Pet-proofing your home and garden: Just like having a human baby, prepare your home for the arrival of a new pet by pet-proofing your living space and removing potential hazards. Secure cabinets, electrical cords, toxic plants, and small objects that could be harmful if ingested. Creating a safe and stimulating environment is essential for your pet's well-being. Did you know lilies can make cats very ill?! See here for some super helpful tips for pet-proofing your garden.