Pet planning for the holidays

Published 8:47 pm Monday, November 19, 2012

With the holidays around the corner, it’s not uncommon to give a puppy or a kitten as a child’s gift. It’s cute, playful, and it’s wonderful to watch a child cradle a kitten or play with a rambunctious puppy. It’s a time to cherish and a joy to watch them grow up together. I want to properly prepare people for this occasion. Yes, there is a proper way to prepare.

Assuming financial and medical responsibility, the first question to consider is what pet is right for the pet owner. It’s important to gauge what pet is appropriate for the household. In many instances, the structure of the home and family may determine what type of pet is appropriate.

Do you want an athletic or a lounging pet? Large or small? Any other animals in the home? You may not want, for example, a 130-pound bull mastiff if you live in an apartment or a kitten with sharp claws and teeth if you have a newborn baby in the house. Just step back for a moment and think, “What animal will live well in my home?”

The second question to consider is the age of the pet.  Typically, from reputable breeders, puppies and kittens at 16 weeks old are weaned, examined and fully vaccinated, including the rabies vaccine from a veterinarian. However, if the animal is less than 16 weeks old, or adopted from the local animal shelter or Humane Society at any age, an initial examination and a vaccination program is highly advised prior to giving the puppy or kitten as a gift. This can create a bonding/training moment for you by spending time in the health care of your pet. Please be advised, if the animal’s rabies-vaccination status is in doubt, get them vaccinated.

A final consideration is to properly prepare your household. Puppies and kittens can get into things we may never think about. Several items to put out of reach include tinsel, yarn, ribbons, lilies, poinsettias, fatty foods, plant water and glass ornaments, just to name a few. In general, if it’s an item that would endanger a curious, crawling baby, then it’s most likely not safe for your new puppy or kitten.

Keep them safe and they will bring years of joy and memories. Happy holidays!

Dr. Boorus Yim is an associate veterinarian at Pamlico Animal Hospital in Washington. He can be reached at pamlicoanimalhospital@yahoo. com