Choosing a healthy pet checklist
What to ask when you’re choosing a dog or cat
Choosing a new pet is an exciting prospect but don't rush into it. Depending on the breed, dogs live for about 10-13 years and cats 15-20 years, so a pet is a long-term commitment, and it pays to do your homework.
Here are some tips to help you buy or adopt the right pet for you, whether you intend to find your pet from a breeder, shelter or rescue organisation.
Looking for a pet
- Do you have the time and resources to commit to having a pet?
- Are you choosing a breed that will suit your home and lifestyle? Remember to consider compatibility with your current pets.
- Some breeds are predisposed to inherited disorders or diseases, or may be more prone to chronic health conditions requiring veterinary treatment. Have you researched the health of the breeds you like?
- Does the advertisement* for the pet contain a source number and microchip number?
- *All puppies, kittens, dogs or cats advertised for sale or give away in Victoria must have a source number from the Pet Exchange Register and a microchip number.
- Have you checked Pet Exchange Register to ensure that the source number is valid?
Selecting a pet
- Always meet the pet, and its parents if you can, before you agree to purchase or leave a deposit. Not every advertisement is accurate, make sure the pet exists and matches the description you’ve been given.
- Have you enquired about the parents’ and pet’s health history? Do they appear happy and healthy?
- Ask if the pet has been vaccinated, treated for worms and fleas and has records to verify this.
- Have you seen and are you satisfied with the pet’s current living conditions?
- Ask how the pet has been socialised. Puppies and kittens have a critical socialisation period between approximately 3-17 weeks of age.
- Are you confident that the person advertising as a breeder, shelter or rescue organisation is reputable? Look for customer reviews or check their standing with a breed club or organisation where they claim membership.
- In Victoria, approved commercial dog breeders have been assessed as meeting strict standards.
- If adopting from a shelter or rescue, ask questions about the animal’s history, so you have a clear understanding of its needs.
Purchasing (or adopting) a pet
- Has the pet been microchipped? Ask for the proof of microchipping and a signed change of ownership form.
- Have you been offered after purchase information and support?
- Have you been offered a guarantee or the option to return an unsuitable pet?
- Where will the purchase take place?
- IMPORTANT: It is illegal to sell companion animals in public places in Victoria without a permit. If the seller suggests meeting somewhere other than a registered domestic animal business or private residence, do not proceed with the transaction. If they suggest meeting in a car park or local park, this is a common sign that the sale may not be legitimate.
- Use the signed change of ownership form to transfer the microchip details into your name immediately.
- Register the pet with your local council.
- Check the validity of the source number listed on the advertisement
- Register a dog or cat with your local council
- Information on microchipping
- Information on desexing
- RSPCA Smart Kitten and Cat Buyers Guide
- RSPCA Smart Puppy and Dog Buyers Guide
- Animal welfare problems that are associated with dog breeding
- Health and welfare issues associated with exaggerated physical features in cats
- Seven health problems caused by inbreeding
- RSPCA Victoria – report a suspected illegal breeder