We Brits are a nation of animal lovers – but how does that translate to the desert? We’ve gathered up the things to consider before adding a furry, feathery, or scaly friend to the family in Dubai…

1. Re-home your friend

It can be a shock to stroll past pet shops and see puppies and kittens confined to tiny cages (usually with children pressing their noses against the glass and banging to get their attention). The animal lovers amongst us have to resist the urge to lunge for the animal and run out the shop with them under our arm (oh how the kids would applaud our heroism) – but the catch is that as soon the cage is empty, another pet will be moved into their place. And so begins a never-ending cycle of animals sold through pet shops (for eye-watering prices, we will add). With so many cats, dogs, and small pets waiting for loving homes in shelters and foster homes across Dubai, it makes far better sense to visit, spend some time looking around, and rehome a furry friend. You’ll also be able to pick the brains of staff about the breeds and suitability for your family, meaning you head home with the perfect new buddy for your lifestyle.

2. Best breed for your family

This is something to consider carefully too. Do you live in an apartment or villa? Would your family enjoy getting outside in the great outdoors to walk a dog (even in the sweltering sun) or would a pet confined to a cage, tank or the four walls of your villa or apartment suit you better? Some breeds are more active than others and it’s worth researching around this. And then there is grooming; do you have the time or money to groom a pet? These are just some of the questions that you need to ask before deciding on a particular breed of pet.

3. Can you afford it? 

Dubai isn’t admittedly the most affordable city to live in – and with school fees ever rising, rents going nowhere, and even a quick trip to the supermarket capable of blowing the weekly budget, have you thought about it being another mouth to feed? That’s not to mention dog parks for run arounds, or the paraphernalia that every pet needs – from cages, to collars and the grooming costs of certain breeds too (think along the lines of 300+ AED every few months – especially during the summer months when coats should be kept short). The advice? Think, budget, and think again before you make the decision to bring that furry friend home.

4. Holiday care

What do you plan to do when you take your annual summer and Christmas jaunts back to Blighty – or when you fancy heading off to a staycation for the weekend? If you have home help and your holidays don’t overlap (and she is comfortable and confident with your new friend, of course), that problem is solved. If not, do you want to add the extra costs to every Dubai departure for a stint in a kennel or regular holiday care?

5. Foster family?

If you’ve been through all the pro’s and con’s, and decided that now isn’t the right time to add a pet permanently to your family, why not offer to foster animals instead? Whether you’re opening up your home to a pet that’s waiting for a forever home (and there is no room in a shelter) – or you are helping out friends with temporary pet care when they head off on holiday – you and the kids will get the benefit of animals in your lives without the full-time commitment. And that could well be the perfect compromise…

There are plenty of organisations in Dubai that have animals waiting to be re-homed, and some offer the chance for children to volunteer too. Please list them to the comments below, so that when we’re looking to find that special little furry friend, we’ll know exactly where to look….