Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pets at Christmas: Tips Pt 2

Christmas trees, Christmas lights & cords, tinsel, ornaments, mistletoe, poinsettias, Christmas presents, ribbons, bows, paper, food, hot ovens/stoves, lots of people, laughter and loud noise… these are all parts of the Christmas celebration. These all present issues for pets at Christmas time, regardless of whether the pet is new or been around a while.

Adopting a Pet for Christmas
A lot of children ask for pets for Christmas. Be it a puppy, a kitten, a bunny or a pony, its part of childhood. Parents have many times satisfied these cries for a Christmas pet by actually following through. In some cases, people also feel the urge to get Christmas pets for people other than children… girlfriends, boyfriends, parents or other loved ones. What people do not take into consideration is whether the recipient of the Christmas pet can care for the pet or even wants the pet. Sometimes people say they want, but do they, really?

People advertise Christmas litters of puppies or kittens… ready in time for Christmas. Should you visit these people?

Even shelters and rescues bump up their advertising for Christmas hoping to find the perfect home for strays knowing full well a lot of these pets will be back. Should you take these organizations up on their offers?

I will answer these questions later.

Apache, a Catahoula Leopard Dog,
at Red River SPCA in Cooke County, Texas

Here are some tips regarding giving pets at Christmastime.

  1. Consult the recipient of your gift. Be it children or adults. Pets should never be a surprise. If the recipient is another adult who does not live with you, ALWAYS discuss the gift of a pet with them. They may not be able to care for it or want it as much as you think they would.
  2. Make sure the recipient is capable of caring for a pet. Financially, mentally & physically. Pets are like a member of the family. They are not throwaways. Just as you would not discard your child or parent, you should not discard a pet. They have needs… food, toys, grooming, medical, etc. and your time. Be sure the monetary cost is in your budget, as well as having the time to spend with the pet.
  3. If the recipient is a child, REMEMBER the child is NOT ultimately responsible for the pet. The parents are! If the child loses interest and no longer takes care of the pet, the adult(s) is/are responsible for the pet.
  4. Do your research! These tips are great even if it is not Christmas.
    1. What is the best type of pet for your family? Dog? Cat? Maybe something else?
    2. Research dog breeds, sizes, etc. If you live in an apartment, a Dalmatian is NOT the right choice. They are large high energy dogs who do not do well in small places. If you have small children, some small breeds like Italian Greyhounds are very fragile and can be injured easily.
    3. Again research cat breeds. Siamese are very active cats. Maine Coons are very laid back. Persians need a lot of grooming.
    4. Research the medical problems prone to individual breeds. Be aware of what may be in the future. It doesn’t mean the pet you choose will get a specific medical problem, but you need to be aware.
    5. Outside animals: horses/ponies, goats, etc. also have specific needs.
    6. The Internet has a vast wealth of information. When doing your research, be sure your Internet research is from reliable sources.
  5. Check into vet clinics to choose the vet best for you and your new pet.
  6. Bring the recipient with you to pick out the pet. Allow them to hold/touch the pet. Allow them to choose their new pet. Pets bond with their owners. Give them a head start by allowing the bonding to start at selection time.
If the pet is for your immediate family and you wish the pet to be a surprise, you can surprise the recipient(s) without actually putting the pet under the tree. All adults (parents) should be involved in the decision. Some tips to surprise your family…
  1. Purchase items needed: food/water bowls, toys, bed, collar, leash, cage (for animals needing such)
  2. Buy a book that teaches the recipient to care for the pet.
  3. Wrap the items and place them under the tree.
  4. Wrap a picture of a dog, cat or other animal you have decided to give as the gift and place it under the tree.
When the recipient unwraps the gift you have placed under the tree, they will know they are getting a pet. You can then let them know when they can go to choose their pet.
If you are purchasing from someone advertising Christmas puppies or adopting from a shelter/rescue, ask them to hold the puppy until after Christmas. Some shelters do not have the space to hold animals; so, they may not be able to hold them.
Be careful of any pet, newly adopted or been around a while, near doors, gates, etc. The constant opening of doors, gates, etc. with guests coming and going allows pets to slip out without anyone noticing. If possible, assign pet duty to one or two people. Their job will be to watch the doors, gates, etc. when people come and go to make sure all entries & exits are closed. Christmas festivities will come to an end quick if the beloved pet is found in the road. If you must have the pets in the house, another choice would be to place pets in a separate room at the farthest end of the house away from the noise to keep them safe and help ease their fears.
Keeping Your Pet Safe at Christmas
These tips will help to ensure you get the right pet. Never purchase a pet, place it in a box with a lid and set it beneath the tree. It may cause the pet to be fearful. There will never be enough holes in a lid or box for the pet to breathe properly.
Remember the list at the beginning of this blog? Bringing a pet into a home with all the goings on that happens on Christmas Day, can be very stressful for any animal. Puppies/dogs, kittens/cats, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, etc. can become very scared with the crowds and hustle & bustle of the day.
Also, be careful of pets who play with or eat tinsel, garland and ribbons. Glass ornaments can cause injury. Food left out can cause illness. Loud noises can cause fear in pets and cause them to run or hide. If you haven’t seen the pet in while, be sure you know they are hiding and did not bolt out a door. Boxes and ribbons can have metal staples that can be choked on. Mistletoe & poinsettias are poisonous to animals. Christmas lights & cords pose electrocution issues if chewed. Christmas trees can be climbed, knocked down or urinated on… all causing potential electrical problems or injury problems. If you have a fireplace, be sure you have a fireplace screen keeping children & pets out. Large dogs can jump on counter and stove tops, as can cats. Be sure they are either kept out of the kitchen or monitored closely. Be sure to keep handles to pots and pans turned inward; so, they can not be knocked down. Do not leave food unattended. Pets have strong food drives. Small bones like turkey and chicken can cause a pet to choke to death.

Please also be careful with candles. A lot of people use candles at Christmastime, as well as year round. Animals and candles do not mix. Keep lit candles out of the reach of pets. Remember cats can jump most anywhere. It is probably better to refrain from using candles at all with pets.
When dealing with pets at Christmastime or any time, always approach each situation with this in mind…
  1. How can this situation become a potential problem for my pet?
  2. Can the pet reach it?
  3. Can it cause harm to my pet?
  4. Can the pet escape, get lost or injured?
  5. Always have the safety of your pet at the forefront of everything you do. Just as you would for your own child or loved ones.
Whether you are adopting a new pet for Christmas or you already have one, remember to take precautions to ensure their safety!

Fran, a Chow Chow/GSD mix,
at Red River SPCA in Cooke County, Texas
And remember to… always paws for critters with 4 paws!
Thanks for reading.
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Don’t forget… you can purchase American made pet products right here at Paws4Critters Pet Stuff!

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