​Choose right pet partner and show some loving

A young woman sits in the park with her dogs and shows them love (photo: Adobe)A young woman sits in the park with her dogs and shows them love (photo: Adobe)
A young woman sits in the park with her dogs and shows them love (photo: Adobe)

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​Valentine's Day may be long gone but our pets still need lots of love, rabbits and guinea pigs especially needing to live with others of the same species.

Dogs also require companionship to live their best lives so what should you look out for when choosing a second pet?

PDSA vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Many of our pets are sociable by nature which means you might want to get them a furry friend as company and a playmate. But it’s important to make sure you get the right companion for your pet otherwise it could make things very difficult for both animals and you.

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“It’s also important to remember that deciding to take on any new animal is a huge commitment, so think carefully about whether you have the time and finances to take on the responsibility of another pet before you make your decision.

Also show a guinea pig love (photo: Adobe)Also show a guinea pig love (photo: Adobe)
Also show a guinea pig love (photo: Adobe)


“While most dogs appreciate the company of their own species, there are some who may struggle to live with other dogs. You know your pet best so don’t force them to accept a new dog into the family if it makes them uncomfortable. Instead, provide them with human companionship, spend more time with them yourself or ask a friend, neighbour or dog walker to take them out for an extra walk each day so they’re not left alone for too long.

“A rehoming centre is a great place to start because it is a good way to find a dog with a personality that matches your pets. Speak to your local shelter to see if they have any dogs they think may be suitable. They can also tell you about the pet’s history and whether they get along well with other dogs or not.

“Make sure that you consider matching exercise ability and requirements too.”

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Showing a rabbit love (photo: Adobe)Showing a rabbit love (photo: Adobe)
Showing a rabbit love (photo: Adobe)

Guinea pigs

“Wherever possible, we’d recommend getting your guinea pigs as established friends, whether they are littermates or a previously bonded pair. But, if you lose one of your guinea pigs or you already have just one guinea pig at home, you need to know how to find the right new friend to keep them both happy.

“Their friend should always be a guinea pig as rabbits and guinea pigs don’t tend to get along well together and some rabbits will bully guinea pigs.

"When introducing guinea pigs, take things slowly.”


“Rabbits kept on their own get lonely and stressed.

"This can lead to serious problems with their behaviour, sometimes displaying fear and frustration through aggression.

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"As much as we love our bunnies, our company isn’t a replacement for having a rabbit friend as they have different needs and communicate in different ways.”

PDSA expert, Nina Downing, answers you pet questions

Dear PDSA vet, my dog Eddie seems lonely so should I get another dog to keep him company? John

Hi John, dogs are sociable pets by nature and Eddie may benefit from having a companion if he is comfortable with other dogs. If you have the space, time and are financially able to look after two dogs over their lifetime, then this could be a nice option for you both.

You will need to try to find a dog you both get along with. For example, if Eddie is fairly chilled out then an excitable puppy might cause a bit of tension. Contact your local rehoming centre as they can try and match Eddie to a dog with a personality that matches his own. The shelter can also tell you about the new dog’s life history, experiences and his exercise needs so that you can decide if they will be compatible.

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Dear PDSA vet, my new hamster Bambi seems scared of us every time we go to pick him up. What can I do to help him settle in? Jessie

Hi Jessie, like lots of small pets, hamsters can be nervous of being picked up, especially if they haven’t been used to being handled regularly from an early age. In the wild, hamsters are hunted by other animals so this makes them naturally nervous.

Sometimes they defend themselves by biting or jumping out of your hands. You can help Bambi get used to being handled by lowering your hand into the cage, away from the hamster, never approaching from above. Allow your hamster to come towards you at their pace and offer a treat. In time they will gain confidence, eventually taking treats from your hand, and then they may step up and sit in your hand. With time, trust will build.

Dear PDSA vet, when should I get my kitten Milo neutered? Celia

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Hi Celia, we recommend that all cats are neutered at around four months old but it is worth making an appointment and discussing Milo’s individual needs with your vet. If he is particularly small for his age or has been unwell at any point, they may recommend waiting. Until then we advise keeping him indoors until he has been neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Visit www.pdsa.org.uk/cat-neutering website.

Dear PDSA vet, my dog Reggie is always scratching his ear. Does he have fleas? Les

Hi Les, if Reggie is scratching his ears a lot more than usual, it’s worth booking an appointment with your vet so they can check it out. Most dogs shake and scratch their ears from time to time but, if a dog does it regularly, it could indicate a problem with their ears or skin, such as allergies, infection, ear mites or even something stuck inside that shouldn’t be there.

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