Responsible pet ownership - How many pets constitutes too many?

Responsible pet ownership - How many pets constitutes too many?

Life As A Pet Parent

It can be incredibly easy for the pet owner and animal enthusiast to declare a firm intention to keepjust a pet or two and no more, but also all too easy to inadvertently end up with a complete menagerie that takes over the house and most of the garden! There is no doubt that there are always an almost limitless number of animals in need within the UK, across all species. When faced with a homeless animal or an animal that needs rehoming, most of us start up a quiet dialogue in our heads about how another pet or two won’t hurt, and consider whether or not we could make room for another animal in our hearts and homes.

The fact of the matter is that often, it is people who are willing and able to take on the ownership and care of several pets for the long term or short term that help to ease the pressure on pet shelters and ensure that abandoned or homeless animals are cared for. Indeed, owners or fosterers of multiple pets can really make a huge difference to the life of any given animal that may otherwise have faced an uncertain future.

However, it is vitally important to ensure that if you keep many pets or might potentially see yourself in the position of keeping lots of pets, that you do this responsibly, and don’t inadvertently end up creating problems for both yourself and the animals in question by trying to do a good thing.

So, exactly how many pets constitutes too many?

There is no catchall answer or set figure of animals that can answer this question, and the ultimate figure that constitutes critical mass will vary from case to case. A wide variety of factors are in play here, including the size and type of home you have, your time commitments, and the type of animals that you keep. It would be relatively easy to keep, say, twenty pet mice with enough care and commitment, but almost impossible for the domestic pet owner to keep twenty dogs!

It is important to assess your own circumstances in order to establish the correct answer for you, using the following criteria.

Do you have enough physical space for all of the pets you keep?

Different types of animals have differing requirements in terms of space. Are you sure that any cages, tanks or hutches that you keep are large enough for their inhabitants, and that their accommodation is suitable for all of their needs? Even if you keep free roaming pets such as cats and dogs, it is important that they have enough room to sleep, eat, establish territories and go about their business without undue stress or being too cramped.

Remember that many animals such as dogs and cats are territorial, and keeping a large number of them together in close quarters can potentially lead to fighting, stress and anxiety in your pets, which is not fair to any of them.

Do you have enough time for all of your animals?

One thing that most pet owners could all do with is a few more hours in the day! It is important to ensure that you have enough time to take care of the needs of all of your various pets, and that you can manage this comfortably without feeling as if something is always being rushed or neglected.

This not only means taking care of things like feeding, walking, or cleaning out any enclosures, but also having the time to spend simply bonding with and enjoying your pets’ company, and ensuring that they are all happy, well and comfortable.

Can you provide financially for all of your pets needs?

It can be all too easy to think that you can take care of the financial needs of multiple pets when they are all healthy and well, and the only ongoing expenses are food and bedding or other sundries. But you must also ensure that you can also afford to insure all of your pets or have the funds on hand to pay for any veterinary treatments needed, and that you can account for any unforeseen expenses and essentials such as flea treatments and wormers, which can all add up.

If you would struggle to cover the cost of veterinary treatment or any emergencies, then you are doing all of your pets a disservice by trying to look after them all.

Are you allowed to keep multiple pets?

If you live in rented accommodation or in a leasehold property, there may be restrictions on the type and amount of pets that you can keep on the premises. Check this out before you bring any new pet home, as falling foul of any regulations or rules regarding your property could soon cause you extreme difficulties.

As well as local restrictions around the type and amount of pets that you can keep on the property, you should also bear in mind any local council regulations as well. Some councils actually set cap figures of the number of pets of some types that can be kept at a domestic property, and even those that don’t do so may be investigate cases of possible overcrowding or too many animals being kept at a residential address.

Keeping a significant number of animals, even domestic pets, may constitute a “change of usage” of the property for planning purposes if the figure is high enough, which means that you might actually need planning permission to keep a large number of pets, which of course, may be denied.

What about your neighbours?

Finally, as well as local council or housing authority regulations regarding the keeping of pets, it is vitally important to take the feelings of your neighbours into consideration too. Even if the number and type of pets that you keep falls within the permitted legal boundaries, you should consider the affect that they may have on your immediate neighbours. While this is also true for owners of just one or two pets, the risk of causing a problem or inconvenience for a neighbour increases exponentially with a larger amount of pets.

Consider the impact of any noise, mess, smells or free roaming animals, and ensure that these things do not cause a problem for your neighbours. Foster good relationships with your neighbours so that they feel able to talk to you if they come across any problems, in order to establish before it is too late if things are getting out of hand.


Having multiple animals may seem like a good idea, and it is all too easy to think “just one more!” time after time, but the impact of each additional animal can have a wide reaching affect on you and the people around you in many ways.

Always think about pet ownership objectively, and consider all of the points raised above each time you consider getting a new pet.



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