A new pet for Christmas

Pets are often given as a Christmas present to loved ones. The holiday season is hectic on its own, adding a new pet on top of that can increase everybody’s stress. Here are some tips on how to smooth up the process and ease the transition period.

As a pet lover I believe that pets are an essential part of one’s life and can bring so much joy and happiness along with them, hence can be the perfect present. However, adopting a pet is a long term commitment, this decision will affect your life for many years to come. Choosing the right type of pet is crucial for a successful adoption.

First I would like to stress that people who choose to add a pet to the family as a present to their child should take into consideration that most probably, when the novelty period is gone, the daily care of the pet will fall on the parents. Before you commit to a new pet, think if this is something that suits you.

A pet can be anything from a fish to snake. Most people go with the conventional house pets- cats and dogs. Cats in general are more easily adaptable, hence this article will focus more on dogs.

When choosing the type of pet you want, think of your lifestyle and what pet will fit it best. For an example if you have a busy lifestyle working most days outside of home, maybe a cat is better fit for you than a dog.

Dog lovers often have a specific breed they love the most. Large breed dogs are very popular amongst dog lovers. However large breed dogs are not for everyone. Large breed dogs require more daily physical exercise, and they cost more to feed and maintain. It sounds very “cold”, but these are actually factors that need to be weighed in, when committing yourself to a dog. Pure breed dogs are usually very popular as well. Each breed has its own specific features that are very appealing to people. However, unfortunately pure breed dogs carry specific diseases or medical conditions in their genes. Some breeds are more affected than others.  Mixed breed dogs can be equally adorable, and often bear less chances of genetic predisposition to specific conditions.

Upon the adoption make sure to receive all the medical information about the pet and its vaccine and deworming record. Take your new pet to be checked by a vet  for the protection of the pet itself and the other family members' health.

The transition period can be very stressful to the pet, especially to young animals that have been separated from their mother. This stress can affect the animal’s behaviour. Expect accidents even in house trained pets - this is very normal and shouldn't alarm you. Extra crying or howling is also very normal. Many animals will be shy for few days and make strange; give them time and let them adjust in their own pace.

Please bear in mind that dogs in the transition period or puppies may damage different objects in your house. This can be a part of teething in puppies or a behavioral manifestation of separation anxiety. Dogs do not damage your house out of spite. This either a cry for help or a part of their normal development. Being aware and avoiding the situation can spare you a lot of grief. Consider confining the dog in a safe area, either by a crate or baby gates until you are confident that the dog has eliminated this habit. Supplying the dog with safe dog toys may satisfy its need for chewing.

Make sure your home is pet proof. Limit the animal’s access to any hazards such as medications, uncovered electric cords, poisons such as antifreeze, rodenticides, fertilization, etc.  

Before you bring the pet home make sure you have a bed ready for it, as well as pet food and litter box for a cat.

Dogs need a collar and a leash. Do not be tempted to walk the dog without a leash, even if you think the dog has gotten used to you by now. In any case I encourage people to always walk dogs on a leash, this is much safer for them, especially to a new dog, where the dog-owner relationship has not been completely established yet. I also recommend to my clients to add identification devices to their pets. It can be done by a collar tag or by permanent means such as a tattoo or microchip.

If you received the pet with food it used to be fed with and you want to change it, do it gradually. Mix the old food with the new food over a few days, and gradually increase the ratio of the new food. Pets can be sensitive and can easily express digestion problems such as vomiting and/or diarrhea due to change of diet.

In case where you are adding a pet to an already existing family with a pet, first make sure that both pets are healthy and vaccinated up to date.

When first introducing dogs to one another, I recommend to have the encounter outdoors and outside of the former dog's territory. First let the dogs get acquainted and play for a while before you allow the new dog into the home.

Introducing a cat and a dog may be more complicated. If you are not sure about the dog’s reaction, consider using a muzzle for a few days. Closely control the contact  between the two animals. Letting the dog sniff the new cat through a closed door is recommended before the actual encounter.

Make sure that children are very gentle with the pet. Closely control every contact between the children and the pet until all parties are well adjusted.

Adding a new member to the family is a major event in life. Before actually doing so, research all aspects of it. Prepare yourself, your family and your home by reading information on the type of animal that will be joining you. Involving a vet and a pet trainer is also very much recommended for a successful adoption.


Dr. Oz can be reached at www.KelownaVet.ca

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About the Author

Dr. Moshe Oz owns Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, a small animal veterinary practice in West Kelowna.

Dr. Oz has deep love and affection for animals. It was his childhood dream to become a veterinarian, a dream that he has fulfilled when he graduated with honours from KUVM,on 2006. Dr. Oz's special interest is internal medicine and surgery.

In his free time Dr. Oz enjoys training and racing triathlons, including the legendary Penticton's Ironman.

Dr. Oz can be contacted through his website: www.KelownaVet.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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