The message ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ has been around for a long time now. This message applies to any pet, but gifting of pets at Christmas still goes on. Why is it such a bad idea?
Firstly, the decision to have a pet should be carefully considered. Without this, problems occur, and rescue homes will be full come February.
Secondly, Let’s say your kids have been nagging you for month’s, you’ve discussed the pros and cons of having a new pet, decided it’s right for your family and that surprising the kids on Christmas day would be a great surprise. This is still a bad idea, as Christmas is not the time to introduce new pets into a new home.
So, What do you need to consider before getting a new pet?
- Can you afford it? The outlay is just the beginning. Significant costs for a pet include feeding and healthcare, which includes regular health checks, vaccinations, worming and flea treatment. Don’t forget the unexpected charges too – You need to either get your pets insured or make sure you have enough money saved for emergencies. You have to expect the unexpected.
- Don’t think small pet = low cost. Kept properly, rabbits and other small pets can cost similar amounts to a cat. The RSPCA has estimated that the cost of keeping a rabbit over it’s lifetime can be around £4000.
- What about the other pets in your household? Rabbits shouldn’t be kept alone. Cats and dogs may fight with each other. Cats with a history of stress problems (hair pulling, cystitis, etc.) may not be able to cope with new additions. Sometimes a new puppy will bring extra life to an older dog but sometimes they could do with a quiet life!
- Have you got the space? This is hopefully an obvious one, but if you live on the 13th floor of a flat, a German shepherd, perhaps isn’t the best idea! If you don’t have a garden, you will need to take your dog for lots of walks so he can have a pee. Having a cat if your house is on a busy road means they will probably have to be an indoor cat, consider how fair this will be and if you can provide enough stimulation for your cat to be happy with this.
- Are you house proud? Inevitably. Pets will have the odd accident and may cause some damage through scratching and chewing. It’s never fair to punish the pet for these mistakes, training should always be positive and reward based.
- Have you got time? You need to be able to walk a dog in the morning and evening. If you work all day, and there is no one to let your pet out for toileting, is it fair to make him cross his legs all day? Don’t get a long haired cat or rabbit if you do not have time to groom them every day.
- Consider the individual pet. If you’re getting a new puppy, examine the characteristics of the breed and if it will suit your situation.
So you want a new pet, why not Christmas Day?
We absolutely see why getting a new pet on Christmas Day would be great for the kids, but it’s not great for the pets. Christmas time can be stressful for new pets, it’s noisy, lots of people coming and going, clamouring to hold the new bundle of fur, excitement, parties, decorations. All of these things can be very stressful for a pet at the best of times. Moving into a new home is stressful enough, so bring the new pet into the house at a quiet time in the new year. Don’t fall for the ideal scenarios seen on tv with cute puppies and kittens wrapped in ribbons. If you want to surprise your kids on Christmas day by telling them you’re getting a pet, you can do this by wrapping up a pet promise such as a lead or a cat toy. Explaining to your child why the pet can’t come on Christmas day. This will help them understand the need for responsible pet ownership.
Before you buy a puppy make sure you know where it’s come from – That’s the message from the RSPCA. It warns that Greater Manchester and Cheshire are two of the worst places in the UK for puppy farms. Often puppies are take away from their mothers when they are too young – and can develop severe illness, behaviour issues and even die.
TIPS TO MAKE SURE BREEDER IS LEGITIMATE
How to avoid puppy farmers:
- Never buy a pup under eight weeks of age. Insist on seeing it at least once with the mother in the place where it was born.
- Never buy from someone who offers to deliver or meet up.
- Check vaccination certificates and other paperwork is genuine.
When you meet the puppies:
- Traders may try and pass off another dog as the mum, so check for signs of recent birth, such as enlarged mammary glands.
- Ask to see certificates of disease screening, vaccination and microchipping records.
- Check for signs of illness such as dull scruffy coat, runny eyes or nose, becoming tired quickly, hunching or crouching.
- Look for a pup happy to interact with you and the littermates. Spend plenty of time with the dog.
- Visit more than once. If the breeder refuses, he or she may be bogus.
- Use the RSPCA/Animal Welfare Puppy Contract
- Report concerns to the RSPCA 0300 1234 999
- For more information and questions for breeders, see www.getpuppysmart.com