Pets are not great gifts


SCARY SEASON The hustle and bustle of Christmas can be terrifying for a new pet.

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

Is it too early to be wishing a ‘Happy Christmas’ yet? It feels like we put up the Christmas decorations in our house last September ... Then again, some members of our family insist that they must be up before the Late Late Toy Show, so there you go.
Speaking of Christmas, some might have the notion of perhaps asking Santa for a new pet to arrive on Christmas morning. Maybe now is would be a good time to reflect on whether getting a pet for Christmas is in fact a good idea.
Getting a new pet, be it a dog, cat, reptile, rodent or any other type of creature is (dare I trot out the perennial cliché) not just for Christmas. It is, indeed, a serious and long commitment that should be thought about properly and thoroughly.
Christmas is a very busy time of year with all the preparation, activity and general hustle and bustle, not to mention potential dangers for a new inquisitive animal. Us vets see it year in, year out; the perennial filling up of animal shelters and rescue charities surprisingly soon each and every New Year with animals who through absolutely no fault of their own end up becoming an unwanted nuance both from a practical and financial point of view.
Remember the cute small adorable Labrador puppy wont be long growing up into a boisterous, strong, large dog who will demand a lot of attention and space, not to mention regular exercise and on-going care in terms of food, vaccinations, worming and so on. The most common problem we see is not necessarily the result of the decision to get a pet for Christmas, but is in fact the decision to get the wrong pet for the owner’s particular circumstances. For example, perhaps a kitten would be better suited to a home where everybody is out for the greater part of every day and where weekends are taken up with lots of activities that cannot include participation by another type of pet, say a dog. Dogs, unlike cats are much more pack-orientated creatures who need company, be it animal or human, and bringing a new puppy into a home such as this is unfair. Pets such as fish, reptiles and rodents also do better with less interaction and don’t mind being left alone for longer periods than dogs.
For those of you who do go ahead and get a pet for Christmas, please oh please reflect on what is suitable, the cost and the commitment, do your research, seek advise, and think about all the implications in terms of the practical, emotional and long-term financial consequences of such a decision. Please don’t add to the annual appalling statistics of unwanted pets ending up in rescue centres, remember its not the animals fault.
Finally, (yes, I guess I am going to go there!) can I firstly wish all Mayo News readers a very happy Christmas and to those of you who took the time this year to read my articles and for your e-mails and messages, I enjoyed putting them together. Roll on a bright and prosperous 2023.

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.