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Giving up a pet you are unable to care for

Owning pets can be extremely rewarding, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. Some owners find themselves in a position where they feel they need to give up a pet. This could be for numerous reasons, but giving them up should always be a last resort. On this page, we outline some ways you can avoid having to rehome your pet, and explain what to do if you have no other option but to find your pet a loving new home.

close-up of juvenile Mastiff

If your pet has behavioural problems

Pets can develop behavioural problems, which can be distressing. You might consider giving them up when they're displaying signs of aggression, destructiveness, or inappropriate toileting, but there are things that can be done to help. Get them checked by a vet to rule out illness or injury as a root cause, then consult an expert clinical animal behaviourist.

Behaviour support for your dog

Do you need to speak to someone about your dog's training or behaviour needs? Dogs Trust has opened a Behaviour Support Line to get you the training or behaviour support you need for your four-legged companion.

Speak to a dog expert through this free telephone service, open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am – 5pm. To find out more, visit online

If your vet bills are too high

Before giving up pets because of expensive vet bills, do some research. Some of our branches may be able to help if you're receiving low-income state benefits. Find out if you could be eligible for financial assistance. Other charities can also help. You could also consider pet insurance, which covers future unexpected vets' bills. We recommend pet insurance as an essential part of responsible pet ownership.

Making the difficult decision to give up your pet

Sometimes giving up a pet is the right thing to do, but it can be distressing for you and them, so it needs to be done carefully. Give your pet the best chance of finding a happy home:

  • Contact the original seller to see if they would be willing to take your pet back.
  • Contact a charity or rescue centre experienced in matching each pet with the right owner.

Many of our branches prioritise animals in need, so may not be able to rehome your pet. However, your local branch may be able to help, depending on the services they offer, so find your local branch

If your local RSPCA branch can't help, other charities are often able to. There are many organisations that can help you rehome your dog or cat. They all have different procedures, so research carefully before giving them a pet you're no longer able to care for. 

Giving up a dog you're no longer able to care for

Below are some charities that may help you rehome your dog:

Giving up a cat you're no longer able to care for

Below are some charities that may help you rehome your cat:

Giving up a rabbit you're no longer able to care for

We've seen a big increase in the number of rabbits entering our centres. Sadly, we're also experiencing a simultaneous reduction in the number of people coming forward to offer rabbits a new home. Our centres are at full capacity and we have a waiting list of rabbits needing to come into our care from private boarding.

Pets at Home rabbit rehoming

The majority of Pets at Home stores are able to accept rabbits for rehoming, as they have a rehoming centre in stores for The Pets at Home Foundation. 

Check online to find your nearest store location with their contact number. Please call the store to see if they have available space, we suggest that you try a few of your local stores if needed. The store colleagues will take you through the next steps in the rehoming journey.

Find out more