We've heard from lots of people who tell us that their fluffy (or less fluffy) friends are an integral part of their lives. Here are 5 things to think about if you're planning on getting a pet.
Pets can make good companions – they can provide company to people who live alone and help reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation. Caring for a pet's needs of food, exercise and love can also give a sense of responsibility.
As well as providing company, having a pet may help motivate you to keep active and get out and about. Dogs need lots of exercise which forces you to take regular exercise. Having a dog can also increase social interaction and help you stay connected with your community.
Pets can have a beneficial effect on mental health. Research shows that simply stroking a pet can lower stress and make people feel calmer.
Keeping a pet is a long-term commitment. Think about what type of pet might be best suited to your circumstances, the cost of owning a pet (including vet bills and food), how regularly you might need to exercise your pet and what might happen if your housing needs change or you go on holiday.
Seek advice from specialist animal organisations or charities. We've listed some below.
Blue Cross offers a range of advice and information to help you look after your pet which you can download or read online.
Borrow My Doggy allows people to borrow dogs from local owners for walks, play days, sleepovers and family holidays. An annual subscription charge applies.
Canine Partners supports adults who have a physical disability or condition through the use of assistance dogs.
The Cinnamon Trust helps people who are over 60 or terminally ill to stay with their pets for as long as possible.
Dogs Trust offers rehoming services for dogs and gives information on what to think about when getting a new dog or puppy.
Pets as Therapy offers a volunteering service where people share their time and their pets with people in need. They can visit residential homes, hospitals, hospices and day care centres.