Pets for Christmas?

PDSA’s advice to prospective owners

With Christmas just around the corner, many families may be considering taking on a pet. However, with the many challenges that 2020 has thrown us, it can be easy to forget that life isn’t always as it is now.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing explains that although pets are a great addition for many families, Christmas isn’t the best time to bring a new pet into your home.

“Owning a pet is really rewarding, so it’s easy to fall for the idea of getting a new furry friend. But when reality sets in, taking care of a pet takes huge commitment and is a lot of work; they’re time consuming and you’re responsible for their every need. It’s tempting to feel that the free time over the Christmas period leaves plenty of space for a new pet but sadly, when normal routines return, pets can suffer when left home alone for hours at a time, so vets and charities strongly advise against getting new pets at Christmas.”

Nina adds: “It’s important to do thorough research, to make sure you get the right pet for your family and lifestyle. Taking on a new pet and getting them in time for a deadline like Christmas can lead to quick decisions that owners may later come to regret. It’s also important to remember that pets will need your time and energy for many, many years.

“The cost of buying or adopting a new pet is just the start as the lifetime costs such as vaccinations, food, toys, grooming, insurance, plus any veterinary care they might need, keep coming. A medium sized dog can potentially cost £27,000 over the course of their lifetime, and that’s without any vet bills! I’d urge everyone to stop, think, and do your homework before taking on a pet.”

“If you have children who are asking for a pet, it can be hard to say “no” at Christmas. Advise your children that for a pet, moving into a new home at the busiest time of year can be overwhelming and upsetting for them, and it won’t give their new pet chance to settle in and enjoy their new family.  It’s important to be firm and stick to your decision. And remember that Father Christmas won’t let pets ride on his sleigh on Christmas Eve as it’s dangerous!

“Some fun alternatives to Christmas pets could include sponsoring an animal or giving books about their chosen pet so they can learn how to look after them in the future.”

Nina concludes: “If you’re thinking of getting a new pet, use reliable sources of information; ask your vet or vet nurse for advice and what books or websites they recommend. Chat to other pet owners first to help you find out about the best breed for you and your circumstances. Don’t be afraid to change your mind and opt for a different pet more suited to your lifestyle instead, or even decide against having one. Try to avoid asking people who may have a vested interest in promoting a particular breed, you need unbiased advice. With all this research to do, you’ll soon find that it’s far easier without the additional pressure of Christmas.”

PDSA’s Get PetWise Quiz can help you to decide whether taking on a pet is right for you and your lifestyle. Take the quiz here:

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

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