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Veterinarian’s advice: Easter is no time for surprise pet gifts

Aug 17

Categories: Blog

As Easter approaches you or someone you know may be considering the purchase of a cuddly Easter bunny, duckling or chick as a gift.  Although these babies are adorable, they grow up into a very serious pet owner responsibility. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and your pet's vet asks you to consider these responsibilities involved before giving these pets as Easter presents.

Baby ducks and chickens require at least 2-3 hours of basic daily care to become domesticated. They need to be handled and petted when they're young to adjust to their new home.  When they become adults, their owners need to be aware of behavioral changes that indicate sickness or poor health.  Also leaving your new pet unsupervised in the presence of the family cat or neighborhood dog could result in injury or even death of the animal.

Cleaning the animal's quarters is crucial to keeping them healthy. A sanitary shelter, indoor or outdoor, must be provided to protect from predators, other pets, and weather.  The strucure should be large enough to allow the animal space to roam, while enclosed to provide protection. Many diseases are traced to poor facilities and neglect.

Health care of a rabbit, duck or chicken is very different from that of a dog or cat and not every veterinarian can provide these health care services. For instance Dr. Breitstein treats rabbits but not ducks or chickens. We treat anything with fur that fits in your house but scales and feathers are best left to others!  Ducks and chickens can carry Salmonella, a bacteria that can cause disease in people through their feces. Health care relies on a strong commitment, daily observation and periodic visits to a qualified veterinarian.

So think before you give a living gift. What may seem like a good idea at the time could turn into a liability in the future.  Make sure the recipient even wants such a gift and will take proper health care steps to ensure the health and well being of these special animals. And, if they do, make sure you know a good veterinarian for their pet's care!