The BSAVA strongly supports the concept of responsible pet ownership and recommends, before taking on the responsibility, anyone considering acquiring a pet should ensure that they can provide for its welfare needs.

The BSAVA considers that responsible pet ownership includes:

  • Committing to the responsibility of providing for the animal’s welfare needs for the life of the pet
  • Recognising that the ownership of a pet requires an investment in time and money, which can be substantial over the lifetime of the animal.
  • Carefully selecting pet(s) suited to your home, lifestyle and family members.
  • Avoiding impulsive decisions about obtaining pet(s), and only obtaining pets from reputable sources which safeguard the health and welfare of the animals they supply.
  • Ensuring that pets are kept in accordance with all relevant legislation.
  • Keeping only the type and number of pets for which you have the knowledge and resources. These should include providing an appropriate and safe environment, appropriate exercise and mental stimulation, to be housed with or apart from other animals and to provide access to appropriate food and water.
  • Protecting your pet from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
  • Registering with a veterinary practice and implementing their advice regarding the preventive and therapeutic healthcare needs of your pet.
  • Ensuring that pets are properly identified (microchipped) where applicable and registered on a recognised database, and that the information on the database is kept up to date.
  • Controlling your pet’s reproduction through neutering, containment (housing males and females separately that aren’t neutered), or managed breeding (to avoid producing unwanted young).
  • Where breeding is undertaken, ensuring that appropriate health tests to reduce the risk of the offspring suffering from inherited disease are undertaken. Consideration should also be given to the temperament and socialisation of animals being bred and the parents of those offspring.
  • Ensuring that your pet is well socialised and trained to ensure its health and welfare, and so that its behaviour does not have a negative impact on other people or animals.
  • Making suitable arrangements for your pets in the event that you are away, taken ill or in case of emergency.
  • Making animal welfare your primary consideration especially when it comes to end of life care.

Background information

Pet ownership is associated with many benefits however it comes with a duty to provide for the welfare needs of the pet and obligations to society to ensure that the pet is kept in good health and under control. Pet ownership should not be taken lightly.

In the United Kingdom the Animal Welfare Acts [1] have introduced a positive duty of care making it the responsibility of the owner to ensure that their animal’s welfare needs are met.


  • A suitable environment (place to live)
  • A suitable diet
  • To exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • To be housed with or apart from other animals (if applicable)
  • To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

It is important to note that these welfare needs set out a minimum standard of care for animals and there is much more that owners can do to enrich the life of their pets.

The BSAVA is aware that the costs of veterinary care can have a significant financial impact on pet owners. Before taking on a pet it is important to understand the likely costs of owning an animal for its whole lifetime, which includes routine veterinary care and making provision for unexpected healthcare costs. The financial impact of owning a pet may be mitigated by (for example) taking out pet insurance or making regular payments into an allocated savings account.


[1]  The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (which applies in England and Wales), the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 and the Welfare of Animals (Northern Ireland) Act 2011


Reviewed by members of BSAVA Scientific Committee (Alexander German, Jeremy Kirk, Caroline Kisielewicz, Lisa Morrow, Ian Self, Melissa Upjohn, James Warland) 2022

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