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Pets as holiday gifts: read this veterinarian’s thoughts

Aug 17

Categories: Blog

Picture the adorable puppy or kitten under the X-mas tree or under the Chanukah bush with a big ,red bow around its neck. It's picture perfect now, but have you considered the long term commitment? It takes a dedicated owner to keep the new family addition healthy and happy. Owning a pet is a responsibility that must be taken seriously so understand the importance before you give or get a pet as a present.

Puppies and kittens require approximately 4-5 visits to the veterinarian during their first four months to get them appropriately immunized and dewormed. As they get older, both puppies and kittens need a visit to the vet for a health exams, vaccinations, and parasite protection/prevention at least 2 times yearly.That's just for preventative care. Don't forget that they get sick, too: tummy trouble, itchy,rashy skin, sometimes they even sustain a broken leg or have a tooth ache! Plus, they will need warm, comfortable places to sleep, regular feedings with proper nutrition based on their life stage and acitvity level, exercise and environmental enhancement and stimulation to play with their loving families. Other costs to consider include grooming,spaying and neutering (at least this surgery in a once in a lifetime procedure), licensing fees, and pet sitter or boarding or play date activities.

The size of the owner's yard or whether building regulations allow pets also must be considered. Large dogs (check the breed for anticipated weight/height expectations) will need plenty of room to exercise, so smaller dogs or cats may be a better choice for an owner with a small home and a yard or an apartment.

In addition, new puppies and kittens need several hours of attention each day and  puppies need obedience training and leash walks to ensure a well behaved pet. Kittens may not require as much supervision but they do tend to scratch and play on furniture and drapes.

If you do decide to add a new pet into the family, first speak with your veterinarian who can provide you with specific information about the care and costs of specific breeds. At Animal Health Care we have new pet owner kits to distribute free to new pet parents. Many pedigreed breeds require special care and grooming and may be subject to certain genetic problems which can add additional costs,treatment, and care. Also, certain breeds do better in specific situations and with certain family types.

Whether you adopt a pet from a local shelter or purchase from a breeder, take note of how the pup or kitten, cat or dog acts toward you and all other family members.  Be sure to choose a bright-eyed and playful animal and avoid those who look lethargic or obviously ill or act scared or aggressive. Plan on making an appointment with your veterinarian within the first 3-5 days of introducing them into your home. You may need to prepare to introduce new pets to resident pets. Also, older pets who need a new home may be looking for their forever home with you: avoiding housetrainingand chewing as well as some of the other challenges found in a younger pet training. Seriously consider adopting rather than shopping if you are not set on a specific breed; although many pure breeds can be found in shelter situations.

Pets make wonderful companions and playmates. But unless you or the new owner is ready for the long-term responsibilityand commitment of pet ownership, consider a fluffy stuffed aimal instead or until you can agree on all of the needs for your new pet.