Pet ownership has been increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic but aspiring owners in apartments should be mindful of which animals they put in confined spaces.
Increased work from home arrangements have made it more feasible and popular for many Aussies to keep pets but the increased time at home did not always account for the challenges of having pets in units, according to one of the country’s top veterinary doctors.
Vet and TV personality Dr Katrina Warren advised those with hopes of getting a new pet to be selective with the animals they choose and be mindful that their favoured breed may not be ideal for their current living arrangement.
“It has to be the right apartment and it has to be the right pet,” Dr Warren said.
She added that there was a common misconception that smaller dogs were better suited to apartment living but size was often a misleading indicator of how the animals would cope in a unit. Temperament was a more reliable factor to consider, she said.
“Small pets, and small dogs, particularly, are not always good in small spaces. In apartments, it’s best to avoid dogs that bark a lot and the age of the animal makes a difference.
“Older animals will sleep more and often don’t need as much space.”
Smaller dogs that were badly suited to apartment living included Chihuahuas and Jack Russell terriers. “A Jack Russell especially has too much energy for an apartment,” Dr Warren said.
Dogs better suited to apartment living included Greyhounds, poodles and poodle crosses, often known as “oodles”.
And while it was common for dog owners to not spend enough time with their animals before the pandemic, the current environment came with the opposite problem.
“Your animals need to learn how to be independent,” Dr Warren said, adding this was particularly important for those with their hearts set on getting a puppy.
“Teach them to have time in the puppy pen. It’s important they learn how to spend time on their own, but make it a happy experience.
“There will inevitably come a time where they will be on their own but you don’t want a situation where they are not used to that because you’re usually home most of the time. Remember that your lifestyle may change again.”
Keeping cats in apartments also came with challenges and not all apartments were suitable for cats, even if the landlords or strata allowed them.
“The apartment has to be safe for cats. It’s a good idea to keep them away from high balconies … older cats from rescue centres are usually more chilled and are easier to look after. You also have to give a lot of consideration for where they will be going to the toilet and what the logistics for that will be. What will they do if you’re away?”
Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said subdued rental conditions meant now was a good time for tenants to be negotiating with landlords for extras, including keeping pets.
Landlords in the CBD and its surrounding suburbs would be particularly open to allowing pets because unit prices have dropped by about 10 per cent since the COVID crisis began. The proportion of rental homes sitting vacant has also been at a record high. Close to 3.5 per cent of all rental homes are currently without a tenant, while in the CBD that number is near 16 per cent.
Landlords would typically give tenants concessions for security of tenure, Ms Conisbee said. About 63 per cent of Aussie households own pets, according to the RSPCA.
Originally published as Best pets for apartment living