Owning a pet in Dubai

What you need to know before you add a furry friend to your family


Sharing your home with a cute little animal, whether it has fins, feathers or fur, is a wonderful thing. It can connect the family, teach children responsibility and encourage everyone to be more active, not to mention reduce stress, according to research. But, with opening your home and heart to something cute and cuddly comes huge responsibility. From making sure your teething puppy has enough chew toys to stop him from ruining your brand-new pair of flip-flops, to ensuring your bunny rabbit’s hutch is adequately air-conditioned (only in Dubai), there are a number of important things to factor in when deciding to get a family pet. We look at some of the most crucial questions and count the cost of being a pet owner in the UAE.

The great debate

Is there ever really a need to buy a pet, when there are so many in need of caring homes? Our transient lifestyle here in Dubai is one of the biggest reasons that pets need a forever (or as-long-as-you-can-promise-them) home. With the huge number of unspayed and unneutered cats and dogs running around, the adoption and rescue groups here, mostly coordinated and funded by volunteers, offer some worthy options for families looking to add to their menagerie. Here are just a few:

Adopt Animals UAE
An online site giving great advice on how to go about adopting a pet. It’s also a free listing platform to raise awareness and promote adoption across the country. Birds and rabbits feature here, as well as a large number of cats and dogs.

Animal Action UAE
The volunteers behind Animal Action UAE take the time to look after stray animals, fostering as many of them as they can and ideally re-homing them with caring families. They have a very active Facebook group that also serves as a forum for advice on all things pet related. It’s a mine of useful information.
Search “Animal Action UAE” on Facebook or email animal.action@hotmail.com.

K9 Friends
K9 Friends reunites lost dogs with their owners, cares for stray pooches and helps them find forever homes. It operates a shelter that can home up to 125 dogs and 30 puppies, and also educates the public on becoming a more responsible pet-owning population through seminars and advice-giving services. This organisation welcomes volunteers in a number of areas, including dog companionship and grooming.
www.k9friends.com (04 887 8739).

The Bin Kitty Collective
This group of kind volunteers has a special programme for the Trapping, Neutering and Releasing (TNR) of stray street cats across the city. It offers discounted rates through its network of vets for the fostering and caring of cats and kittens, and also organises adoption days, complete with lots of solid advice, for families who wish to welcome a feline friend into their homes.
Search “The Bin Kitty Collective” on Facebook or email binkittycollective@gmail.com.

Money spinner

Owning a pet in Dubai can bring with it hefty financial tolls. Aside from the yearly vaccination costs, which are required by law, if your furry friend gets ill or has an accident and needs to spend time with the vet, it can quickly spiral upwards and you may find that your bank balance suffers. In many countries around the world, pet insurance offers that safety blanket and alleviates the financial stress of a sick animal. It is hugely important for potential pet owners to count the costs as much as they can before committing to bringing a little creature to live in your family home. To help you work your way through the process, We’ve rounded up costs from some of the popular animal practices in Dubai…

Blue Oasis
A warm and caring pet clinic that is dedicated to the wellbeing of animal friends, including cats, dogs, rodents and rabbits.
Dhs185 (consultation), Dhs335 (annual vaccinations for cats and dogs), Dhs75 (municipality fee). Dubai Investments Park, Green Community, www.blueoasispetcare.com (04 884 8580).

Dubai Municipality Veterinary Services
This government veterinary practice is a cost-effective option for many, as initial consultations are free of charge.
Free (consultations), Dhs210 (annual vaccination for dogs), Dhs180 (annual vaccination for cats), Dhs10 (municipality fee). Open Sat-Thu 7.30am-7.30pm; Fri 6.30am-11am, 2pm-7.30pm. Wadi Al Amardi, vetsection@dm.gov.ae (04 289 1114).

Two feet four paws
This practice is made up of a family-orientated team who are on hand to cater for all your pet’s needs. It plays an active role within the community by constructively contributing towards the welfare of all animals, including fledgling birds.
Dhs190 (consultation), Dhs375 (annual vaccinations for cats and dogs), Dhs53 (municipality fee). Open Sun-Wed 8am-7pm, Thu 8am-5pm, Fri-Sat 9am-5pm. Shop 1, Al Durar Building, Dubailand (04 552 0213). Other location: Golden Mile Galleria 1, www.2feet2paws.ae (04 442 8330).

Pet hotels

Sometimes your pet will need a sitter, especially as during the hot summer months many families leave town for travels far and wide. There are plenty of kennels and catteries that offer friendly and happy temporary care, but it’s best to get booked in early. Another idea is to find a trustworthy pet sitter who can spend time with your furry friend when you’re not around. Here’s a round up of different options…

CSD Pet Solutions
You might prefer having your critter looked after in your own home, especially if you are just away for the weekend. Staff from this company will come for scheduled visits to your location and feed and play with your pet and walk them if needed. You can choose from one, two or even three visits a day.
Dhs65 (per cat for 35 minutes), Dhs75 (per dog for 45 minutes). www.petsittingindubai.com (056 466 8625).

Daphne Play Centre
Like a soft play area for dogs, Daphne’s Play Centre offers kennel-free boarding for man’s best friend. It includes an indoor doggy park and a safe space for your four-legged little ones to enjoy a “playcation”. Overnight guests have cosy beds, plenty of toys and treats.
Dhs110 (per day boarding), Dhs80 (doggy day-care). Open Sun-Thu 8am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-5pm. Warehouse 8, 7B Street, Al Quoz Industrial Area 4, www.daphneplaycentre.com (050 707 6196).

Urban Tails
A seven-star hotel for your critter – this is the promise from Urban Tails. It provides a home away from home for your cat or dog – you can even book a condo for multiple pets!
Dhs115 (per day boarding in a junior suite), Dhs85 (doggy day-care). Open Sat-Thu 9am-6pm or 7am-7pm for day-care. Dubai Investment Park 2, The Green Community, www.urbantailsdubai.com (04 884 8847).

Should we or shouldn’t we?

Dr Erica Rebelo, the director of Star Veterinary Clinic, is the proud owner of two horses, three Jack Russell terriers, one boxer dog, one European cat and an African grey parrot. She also has a Master’s degree in dairy cattle farming and is utterly passionate about animals. Here, she offers her top ten tips for families thinking about getting a pet…

“The decision to get a pet, no matter what pet, takes time. Families should study a little about the animal they want and shouldn’t just follow “fashion” or get whatever their friends have. Families should consider their own lifestyle and the time they have to spend in order to find the pet suitable for them. Even rabbits or snakes or birds like and need to interact with their owners.”

“Not doing enough research before acquiring a pet is the most common mistake families make. People need to find out what feeding requirements the animal has and what type of food is available here. Find out if the animal has any special needs and also determine whether there are any common breed-specific problems.”

“If you’re looking to encourage the concept of responsibility for a child, then rabbits and guinea pigs are definitely good for kids. Or even fish, to start off with. You can explain and create feeding schedules together and, for older children, they can be responsible for cleaning enclosures and making sure there is plenty of food and bedding, for example.”

“Insects are great for allowing children to study how creatures interact with each other and see how they grow and change under their care. Spiders, beetles, crickets, flies and ants can be found in abundance in our back gardens.”

“Small dog breeds or kittens should generally be avoided with very young children as accidents can occur when younger members of the family aren’t aware of the risks of dropping them or squeezing too hard when giving cuddles.”

“Be careful when choosing your pet in this climate, to ensure it’s a breed that can handle the heat. Seek advice from your local vet if you’re not sure.”

“Make sure children understand that pets are not teddy bears or toys that they can discard whenever they want. Explain that having a pet is the same as welcoming a new member of the family – they need to be taken care of, fed and given love and attention.”

“Private pet insurance is crucial and is something that is still being properly developed in the UAE. Veterinary supplies and equipment are expensive, especially here, where there are many restricted medicines that can be expensive to source. MRIs and CT scans can also be very expensive, as investing in this sort of machinery for clinics is a huge investment.”

“No animal should actually be difficult to look after as long as you do your homework before you get it, and are fully prepared to provide everything your pet is going to need.”

“I always would suggest adopting instead of buying a pet, if you can. You can’t imagine how many pets are waiting for a home and, fortunately, there are so many people in the UAE dedicating their lives to this cause.”

No pet left behind

The reality of life as an expat family is that home is rarely the same place for more than a few years at a time. So, if you’re reading this and thinking about getting a pet, it’s important to consider that, if not properly researched, welcoming one into your family could bring huge, unexpected expenses when it’s time to move on. Unfortunately, this means that many families tend to abandon their pets when leaving, instead of forking out for relocation or rehoming costs. So, we spoke to Tim Nanjappa, global relocations account manager from Dubai Kennels and Cattery, about the costs and processes involved in transporting your best (furry) friends.
He says: “A young, medium-sized dog such as an English or American cocker spaniel, for example, would cost approximately Dhs10,000 to Dhs12,000 to transport from Dubai to New York, in America, and Dhs10,000 to Dhs12,000 from Dubai to London, England, and Dhs24,000 to Dhs26,000 to Sydney, Australia.”

Once you’ve got those costs settled, then this is what you need to think about before you ship your pet:

1 Does your pet belong to a banned breed list in the importing country?

2 Does your pet meet the entry requirements of the importing country? Australia and New Zealand, for example, ask you to make preparations at least six months before any transit actually takes place.

3 Certain breeds of dog, such as short-nosed ones, are statistically more prone to death during air travel than those with normal snouts. That’s because these breeds have less internal anatomical space in which to pack the same amount of respiratory structure when compared to standard-nosed ones.

4 If you are transporting a pet other than a cat or dog, it’s worth checking if they belong to the CITES (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species) list. If they do, you’ll need to obtain additional import and export permits, which can be time consuming. Be prepared.

5 Do you have the correct paperwork, including health certificates for vaccinations and import permits required for your pet to enter the country?

6 Is your cat or dog fit to fly? If they’re in poor health or particularly elderly, they may not cope with the journey very well.

7 Do you have a suitable travel box that meets airline and IATA standards?

Better start that pet travel fund now, then!

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