Pets and other animals

Animals are less complicated than humans. They can offer you companionship, fun and affection without judging you or making big demands in return. Spending time with animals can make you feel calmer and more secure during your complicated teenage years.


Having a pet is a big commitment. You need to look after them properly and this takes time and money. If you want a pet, you will need to discuss this carefully and realistically with your family. You can find out everything you need to know about different kinds of pets on the website of the animal welfare charity, the RSCPA.
Remember in particular:

  • Dogs need regular company and plenty of exercise. They do not like being left alone for a long time. Cute little puppies can grow into big dogs and take up a lot of space. See the useful pages on the RSCPA website about dogs’ needs, where to get a dog, and lots more.
  • Cats are more independent than dogs and can cope better if you’re out during the day, but they still need to be fed, given plenty of water, and let out for exercise. See the useful RSPCA information about cats and how to look after them here.
  • Rabbits need to be cleaned, fed, and exercised. They are not as easy to look after as you might think – see the RSPCA rabbit pages here. They also live for about 10 years!

If you don’t have a pet

You can still benefit from animal relationships if you don’t have a pet. Try:

  • looking after your friends’ or neighbours’ pets with them, or while they are out or away. Make sure you know exactly what you are supposed to do. You could even get paid for this.
  • working or volunteering at local stables, kennels or catteries.
  • volunteering with animal shelters or rescue charities such as the RSPCA or Blue Cross (though you need to be at least 16 for many roles).
  • walking a dog to help an elderly or terminally ill person through the Cinnamon Trust charity, or informally through your own local contacts.

Careers with animals

If you’re very keen on animals, and think you might like to work with them full-time when you’re older, check out the job profiles on the National Careers Service website. These explain clearly what the different possible jobs involve and the qualifications and/or experience you’ll need.

You might also be interested in the following pages:

Dog-walking and pet-sitting
Discover the joys of work
Making the most of education – 16 +
Your future
Making the most of education – looking beyond 18