‘But pleeeeease?’ – Our advice on new pets and responsible ownership.

This year, like every other year, a puppy, kitten or other cute and fluffy creature will be top of the Christmas list for lots of children. Getting a new pet is a big decision to make.

Not only do you have to decide which species of animal you like, you have to take into account how they will fit into your family life and budget. As pet owners ourselves, we know how much of a commitment it takes to look after an animal, and we are here to support you every step of the way. This article aims to show why pets are not a good choice for Christmas presents, and also offers you some alternative pet related gift suggestions.

So why is Christmas a bad time to introduce a new pet into your home?

The phrase ‘a pet is for life, not just for Christmas’ has been used so much in advertising campaigns that it might have started to loose some of its meaning. The thing is , it is true. Becoming a pet owner is a massive commitment. Even if the animal is bought for a child, you as an adult are the legal owner. This means you will personally be responsible for the care and well being of this creature for the rest of its life. A dog may live for 10-12 years , a cat may live even longer. Even guinea pigs and rabbits require a commitment of daily care for at least the next 5 years.

Once you have settled on your chosen species, the next thing to think about will be their arrival in their new home. For obvious reasons, Christmas is not the best time to be bringing an animal into your house.

The ‘holidays’ are a very busy time, full of noise and excitement. Often we have lots of family and friends over, and this can be really overwhelming for new pets. Moving away from their old home to a new home and starting on a new diet can often result in a short bout of diarrhoea in animals. Not the ideal thing to be cleaning up from your living room carpet on Christmas morning before the relatives arrive.
Christmas and New Year festivities will also mean that a new puppy or kitten will be exposed to even more hazards than normal. Foods that they are not supposed to eat, decorations that they are not supposed to chew and tempting toys that they are not supposed to swallow.

New puppies and dogs will need exercising whatever the weather. Establishing a routine for ‘walkies’ will not be easy when the weather is miserable. It can be really tough to summon up the motivation to go out on a cold wet windy December day, or in the dark after a long day at work. Much better to wait until the days start to get lighter and drier before trying to settle you and your new dog into a routine.

Some alternative suggestions to giving animals as Christmas presents.
Plan for a pet - If you feel that a pet will fit into your family life and that you can make a commitment to caring for an animal in the long term, then planning for a future pet might be a good idea. Rather than saying ‘no’ outright how about getting your child ready to take care of their pet. Books on their chosen pet, computer games that simulate pet care or a subscription to a pet care magazine are good ways to introduce your child to the needs of their new pet.
Sponsor a rescue animal -  If you don’t feel that you will be able to take on a pet in the near future how about sponsoring an animal? Lots of rescue centres offer this option, allowing your child to ‘care’ for a cat, dog, bunny or even a pony. Some rescues will provide regular updates about your sponsored pet, along with certificates and you may even be able to visit your adopted pet.
Money, money, money! – Caring for a pet is a costly business. Food, a comfy bed, toys, treats, insurance and routine health care; it soon adds up. Why not suggest a savings fund- Christmas money from relatives can then be saved up and go towards all the things your future pet will need.

Please remember: If you do decide to get a new pet we are here to support you in every way possible. If you would like advice on introducing a new animal into your home, feel free to give us a call on 0143760111.

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