Trust & Safety

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Buyer checklist for companion animals

Cutest -puppy

Buyer checklist for companion animals

If you are thinking about buying or adopting a pet, you may want to consider if you can you answer ‘YES’ to these questions?

If so, you're probably going to make a great pet owner.

1.    Can you care for a pet for its whole life?

The average lifespan of dogs and cats is around 12 years, with some dogs and cats living until 15 or even 20 years of age.

While puppies and kittens are irresistibly adorable, you will need to be prepared to provide for an adult animal too and, in the case of some dog breeds, a much larger animal with considerable exercise requirements and a sizable appetite.

2.    Can you afford a pet?

Responsible pet owners should vaccinate, microchip, and desex animals.

This comes at a cost. Additionally, you will need to think about ongoing costs like food, toys, bedding, worming, annual health checks, vet bills, and other costs for the life of the animal.

The costs of pet ownership will vary depending on the type of animal you choose. The cost of caring for an average sized dog can be $20+ a week, and this does not include any emergency vet care they may need.

3.    Do you know how to care for a pet?

As a pet owner it is your responsibility to know how to properly care for your animals. We suggest that you do some research before deciding to buy or adopt. 

4.    Do you have time to care for a pet?

Exercise, grooming, obedience, and play are important aspects of pet ownership.

Some pets will demand more of your time than others. Puppies and kittens are a huge time investment – you will need to ensure that they settle into your house comfortably, are house trained, learn obedience, and are fed, walked, and taken to the vet when necessary. 

Adult animals are no less work. You will need to set aside time to exercise, groom, and play with your pet for its entire lifetime.

5.    Is your home suitable for a pet?

Carefully consider the kind of accommodation you will be able to provide for your pet.

Your home and garden size are significant factors in determining your suitability as a pet owner.

If you live in a rented property think carefully before committing yourself to a pet. While some landlords allow pets, many do not. We see a lot of dogs brought in because the owners are unable to find a dog-friendly place to rent.

6.    Will a pet fit into your lifestyle?

Working hours, a busy social life and taking regular trips away are all factors you need to consider before adopting a pet.

Companion animals like dogs and cats thrive on human company and will always depend on you – you must be sure that your lifestyle will accommodate them.

Before you adopt a pet consider their specific requirements:

•    Are you prepared to walk your dog every day?
•    Are you home often enough to keep your cat company?
•    Do you have time to give your puppy or kitten the basic training it needs?
•    Who will care for your pet when you are away from home?

7.    Is the pet you are buying healthy?

Responsible breeders will have treated their young animals for worms and fleas and have taken them to their veterinarian for a health check and first vaccination.

Breeders should test for inherited diseases before mating to reduce the chances of passing on crippling genetic problems like, Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndromeblindness and arthritis to the offspring.

Ask your veterinarian to help you interpret the results. Where possible, visit the breeder to ensure you are happy with the pet’s living conditions.

Being able to meet the mother (and sometimes father), will also give you an idea of your new pet's temperament and adult size. 

Good breeders will provide ongoing support and information about caring for your pet and may even provide a guarantee.

The NZ animal welfare codes recommend that puppies and kittens be at least eight weeks before they are offered for sale – this is a requirement before puppies and kittens can be listed on Trade Me.

If your answer to all these questions is ”Yes”, you’re quite likely ready to buy or adopt.


Trade Me would like to thank the SPCANZVAKennel Club and the Cat Fancy for their input into this initiative.

Each of these organisations has further information on pet care and ownership and we recommend both sellers and buyers use the resources they have available online if they’re after any further info.

The Ministry of Primary Industries also has some great advice, including the age at which animals can be re-homed