Every year animal shelters rescue hundreds of animals that were given away as surprise Christmas presents. This month, Karingal Veterinary Hospital’s blogging team outline some things to think about before adopting a pet for Christmas.
Many pets can live for up to 10-20 years and some species such as parrots and reptiles can live even longer than that. It is important to make sure you have thoroughly investigated the responsibilities of pet ownership before impulsively buying one for under the Christmas tree. A lot of planning and thought must go into pet ownership — think about who will take care of the animal, when you will walk, train, feed and spend time with it, and what its day-to-day life will be like after the Christmas holidays.
If you are thinking about adopting a pet for Christmas, ask yourself: why now? Has this been a discussion you have been having with your family for a while? Is it an impulsive decision? Are you ready to have a pet become a part of the family for the next 10-20 years, or is it more about Christmas morning? If it’s more about Christmas morning, opt for another gift, perhaps a cat toy or collar for under the tree, as a way of starting the pet conversation with your family.
The Summer holidays may be a good time to adopt a pet. The family may have time off, which they can dedicate to training and bonding with their new pet. This time of year, however, is also a busy one — with Christmas parties, family holidays, sleepovers and school camps, the calendar quickly fills up. New pets need love and attention. Before adopting a pet this Christmas, make sure you have enough time to devote to your pet, its training, feeding and walking.
Pets are not one-off purchases. Within the first few months, your pet will have to receive their vaccinations, and you may also wish to have them de-sexed. Every year, some vaccinations will have to be renewed, and there are annual physical and dental check-ups. On top of this, you are responsible for providing them will stimulus, such as toys, walking them (and thus buying a lead), training them and, if a dog, taking them to puppy school. Parasite Prevention Programs, pet insurance and food are also ongoing costs. If your pet gets sick or has an accident, that too will cost. If your family go on holiday you will have to pay for your pet to be housed. Thoroughly think through the costs, both financial and time-related, to not only buying, but taking care of a pet for years to come.
During the Christmas holidays, you and your family may have extra time around the house. But when school goes back and you return to work, what kind of life will your pet be leading? Will they be alone most the day every day? Who will walk and play with your pet? Who will feed it in the morning and take care of your new pal? Daycare is becoming an increasingly popular solution to pet isolation but may not be ideal for every pet and family. Think through the day-to-day of your pet before committing it to a life of isolation.
If you are renting, ask if you can have pets. Renters should also be confident that they can stay living in their home for a long time before adopting a new pet — a number of animals end up in rescue homes when their owners move to a less pet-friendly place.
Consider the impact your current home life will have on a new animal: do you have small children or other pets that may frighten your new addition? Do you have lots of people coming and going who may forget to close the front door? Will it be a safe, nurturing environment for an animal, or do you need to wait a few more years before adopting a pet?
Set to pet-proofing your home. New pets like to explore their territory, so a secure fence is a must! It’s also important to keep poisons and unhealthy foods out of their reach and establish a quiet corner where your animal can retreat to.
So your pet isn’t just for Christmas, you have time to train it and love it, you can afford it, it won’t be too lonely most of the time and your home is pet-proofed. Now, what pet do you want to get? Different breeds have different temperaments and are suited to different lifestyles. Border Collies and and Cattle Dogs, for example, need some yard to run around in. Research which breeds best suit your lifestyle and the lifestyle you can offer the animal. Websites like www.adoptapet.com.au talk about the importance of finding the best pet match and the RSPCA also have released this Puppy Guide to help in your research.
Adopting a pet from a rescue home, such as https://www.petrescue.com.au/ or http://gap.grv.org.au/. Rescue animals are already vaccinated and microchipped. Around Christmas time, so many more animals end up in rescue, and they desperately need homes. If you can, visit a rescue home near you to see if your next furry companion is there.
If you choose to go with a breeder, ask to see how your pet’s mum and dad are being treated. Make sure they’re healthy and happy and being cared for.
Remember, pets are a lifelong responsibility and take a lot of caring for. Be absolutely certain you can afford to keep a pet for the long haul. Research what pets best suit your lifestyle and if you can, visit a rescue home.
The Karingal Veterinary Hospital is open 7 days a week.
Our hours are
- 8am-8pm Monday-Friday,
- 9am-5pm Saturday,
- 9am-1pm Sunday,
* We are closed on public holidays.