A pet for Christmas? It’s all about planning


GROW UP FAST A small, cute golden Labrador puppy of 12 weeks old will soon grow into a strong, large dog that needs lots of exercise and control.

It’s all about planning

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

Planning for Christmas encompasses so many different elements, from present buying to turkey ordering, to thinking up of legitimate excuses to avoid tricky family encounters. For anyone planning on getting a new pet for Christmas, there are lots of different elements to consider too.
It is my opinion that such a plan should not be undertaken at this time of year for so many reasons. However, if you are heart set on getting a new puppy, kitten or any other type of pet for Christmas – or indeed someone small has written to and asked Santa for a new pet – then ‘planning’ is the key word. Plan, plan, plan.
Firstly, think about the type of pet, then what breed and what gender and what age. All the necessary supports – housing, food, bedding, vaccinations, worming and so on – also need to be thoroughly considered.
For example, if you’re perhaps thinking of a new puppy, remember that a small, cute, fat golden Labrador puppy of 12 weeks old, similar to the Andrex puppy, will grow up into a strong, large dog in need to quite a considerable amount of exercise, interaction and control later next year.
All too often this is the typical kind of mistake people make when going down the pet-at-Christmas route.
A new rabbit, or indeed rodents like hamsters or guinea pigs, will need secure housing, a run, and perhaps a companion to keep them safe and secure as well as mentally healthy going forward. Often these things are not considered till its too late.
Planning and thinking the plan through should always be done and enough time given to the long-term consequences also. A conversation with your vet can be hugely beneficial.
We here in Skeldale get enquiries at this time of year for advice on such matters, and we welcome them, because we oftentimes can help avoid trouble in January/February when the honeymoon period of Christmas is well and truly over and people can be potentially left with a problem of their own making. No new puppy, kitten or other animal asks to be put in a difficult unmanageable situation where their quality of life isn’t what it should be.
Remember too, there are some legal requirements when getting a new puppy, such as a microchip, registration on the proper database, as well as a licence. You must ensure that the puppy will be securely housed and confined so that it does not cause an accident on the road or go on to worry sheep and lambs in the spring.
Many people reading this article will say to themselves, ‘Yes sure, but this would never happen in our house’ or ‘This would never happen to me’, but year in year out, the pounds and animal rescue centres are inundated with tragic cases of unwanted animals after the Christmas period.
A final thought, speaking of animal rescue centres, please consider giving the gift of a donation to one of our very worthy animal charities this Christmas. They do wonderful work with limited budgets and are always very grateful for your continued support.
Finally, I’d like to thank you one and all for your interest in my articles this year and your continued support for your local newspaper, The Mayo News. Seasons greetings to you all, and I wish you a peaceful and most importantly a healthy Christmas this year from the Skeldale team.

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.