The vet's view
Lots of people foolishly believe pets make a great surprise on Christmas morning. However, the very last thing anyone wants is a frightened, cowering animal who is overwhelmed by the excitement and the squeals of delighted children clamouring for the chance to hold it.
Christmas morning is an especially chaotic time, with everyone tearing into gifts and raised noise levels that even seasoned animals would find difficult to bear. With all the holiday decorations, the bustling about and the rich food, it can be a dangerous and scary time for a young puppy or kitten to be introduced to any family.
Frightened animals can soil floors and react badly to noises and manhandling. Worst case scenario, the poor unfortunate animal is so stressed it bites a child, bringing a pall of gloom to what should be an exciting, happy time. Your pet’s first experience and exposure to its new family should be a positive and re-affirming experience.
In addition, on Christmas morning there are lots of dangerous items lying about, such as electrical cables, candles, wrapping paper and dangerous foods like chocolate and holly berries that a new pet will undoubtedly chew on and potentially swallow. You don’t want your first day with your new pet to be spent wondering if they will survive an unnecessary surgery because they have eaten something dangerous.
Before deciding to get a pet for Christmas, you need to have asked yourself a few questions. How will this animal affect your family’s daily life dynamic? What animal and breed is best suited to your family? It may be that the pet you think is perfect for your family turns out to be a total disaster. Indeed, the results poor decisions are often seen in January and February when these poor pets turn up in rescue centres.
A proper family discussion (incorporating advice from your vet) about what exactly is involved, including training, care, feeding, housing and so on is really very, very important. For example, sometimes an older, trained animal, one accustomed to noises and busy family life, would be more appropriate than a younger pet.
It is still early December, and so there’s plenty of time to reconsider the Christmas Morning idea. Please think about waiting to get that new pet; it’s honestly not worth the hassle. Why not give a picture of the pet on Christmas Day instead? Or an indication of the present to come, like a cat bowl or a dog collar. Best to get the real new pet at a less-busy time of year when everyone in the family can focus properly on the new arrival, and it gets the gentle attention it deserves.
Perhaps consider giving a donation to your local animal charity this Christmas too; lots of people give these donations as gifts and it’s a wonderful thing to do. And of course, do consider adopting from a rescue charity – they have animals of all shapes and sizes that desperately need homes.
Don’t forget to talk to your vet about the best type of pet for your family and circumstances, whether that be a dog, cat, bird, reptile or something else. Because we so often see the negative side of poor pet choices, we’re in a good place to help advise you on the best choice for you and your family – a choice that will hopefully bring years of joy and happiness.
Happy safe Christmas to everyone from Skeldale.
Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.