Owning a pet is a big responsibility. You should always think carefully if you can afford a pet and if you can look after it. Before you buy a pet, you should think carefully:

  • can I afford to look after a pet? This includes initial fees, vaccinations, food, insurance and vets' bills
  • am I ready for the responsibilities of pet ownership? Dogs need regular walks, and animals in general need a lot of looking after.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 defines this. It raised the minimum age for buying a pet from 12 to 16. Under-16s are not able to win a pet as a prize.

You must be over 16 to own a pet in England and Wales. This is also the case in Scotland.

Even if you are over 16, you will need a licence to earn certain kinds of pets. You can find out more about owning exotic or wild animals here.