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Posted By: Ellen - Vet

A Pet’s not just for Christmas it’s for life

Getting a new puppy or kitten can be an exciting and rewarding time, however it can also be a very demanding one. As we come up to Christmas, the number of new puppies and kittens that we see starts to increase. It is important to remember just how much of a time, money and energy commitment they really are! In particular, in the first year of ownership there are even more costs and provisions that you as their owner will have a duty of care to provide. They will need good quality food for their development as well their initial course of vaccinations, flea and worm treatment, neutering and microchipping. As well as any other vet treatment they might require. Puppies will also need space and can often be very energetic souls so lots of time and patience are needed in order to train them to be the dog that you want them to become. For kittens considering proximity to roads is important too.

If you feel that you have all these things to provide to a new arrival then the next thing to consider with puppies and kittens is what breed you are looking to get. They all have different energy requirements and temperaments. Puppies are also very different shapes and sizes. Finding one who fits in with you and your family is really important. How much time you have to spend exercising your dog is something to consider, all breeds will need time for this. However some such as Border Collies and Springer Spaniels will need a lot more exercise so if you have a one bedroom flat with no garden then these breeds are best avoided! The common temperaments of different breeds are good to look at to assess which fit best with you.  It is worth investigating any health problems that are common in your chosen breed. There has been a large increase in brachycephalic dog breeds, such as pugs and French Bulldogs. These dogs can be wonderful companions however they do often have breathing problems, particularly in dogs with extreme breed characteristics such as very flat faces. Certain cat breeds can equally be prone to health problems, including brachycephalic cats. Most kittens tend to be fairly equally energetic though! Once you have chosen a breed that fits you well then we need to start thinking about where to get your new pet from.

Rescue homes are great places to get dogs and kittens, and they will often have already been vaccinated and neutered by the time you get them. However they can come with behavioural problems already present as they might not have been socialised very well. Avoiding adverts on the internet is strongly recommended as it is difficult to be certain of what you are taking on. If you are buying a puppy from a breeder then picking the right one is crucial. There are many breeder assurance schemes to help with this. Being able to meet the mother and rest of the litter is a good sign and you can check that they all appear to be in good health. If they do not seem in good health or you have worries then it is best not to purchase the animal. It should be established how much human contact the puppies/kittens have had as this is really important in their early life to make sure they are well socialised. Puppies should be at least 8 weeks before they are rehomed, and breeders are now legally bound to have them microchipped and registered to themselves before you take them on.  If possible a written agreement allowing you 48 hours to get you new puppy or kitten checked over by your own vets before confirming purchase is very comforting.

Getting a new pet is a really exciting time and being well prepared for what you are taking on will make the process much smoother. Even though there will inevitably be some more difficult parts, which need a bit of patience such as when your puppy eats your brand new shoes or other such item!  

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