GIFTS of playful and cuddly pets also come with responsibilities. Picture: Instagram.
GIFTS of playful and cuddly pets also come with responsibilities. Picture: Instagram.

’Tis the season to be jolly but don’t surprise someone with a pet this Christmas

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Dec 3, 2021

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Wish lists are being written, shopping carts are being filled and presents are being wrapped as people also continue to hunt for the perfect gift to surprise a loved one with.

One that may tick all your boxes is a pet. Dogs and cats are playful and cuddly – who wouldn’t love being surprised with one wearing a bow on Christmas morning Lady and the Tramp style? Unfortunately, as fabulous as the idea sounds, it doesn’t always turn out quite so well for the pet or their owner.

At this time of the year, it is common for there to be an increase in pet adoptions and purchases from animal shelters and pet shops. The SPCA shared in a recent press release that, “While we encourage the adoption of our shelter animals, we do not promote animals to be given as a Christmas gift’.”

Although gifting a pet as a present may seem like a grand gesture, the reality is, you’ve just left someone with a huge and unexpected responsibility.

Chantall Giliomee, the Marketing Assistant at Durban and Coast SPCA, says: “We do see a very slight increase in adoptions during the festive season, however, we have a very large number of unwanted and stray animals taken in over the holidays, too.”

According to Giliomee, it’s not advisable to surprise someone with a pet as a gift.

“Pet ownership is a big responsibility and a lifelong commitment. Having a pet will require an emotional and financial commitment. The person receiving the pet may not always be in a financial position to take care of the pet’s needs. A pet owner has to also prepare for a pet joining their home. It is always best to choose your own pet as you need to have an emotional connection with the pet,” she said.

The responsibilities of a pet owner:

  • Clean drinking water – this should always be available to your pet and should be changed regularly (more than once a day, especially if left outside).
  • Food – the proper diet required by your pet in order to provide them with all the nutrients needed. Dietary requirements will depend on the brand of food and pet. Different brands of food will have a feeding guideline on the packaging.
  • Shelter – somewhere warm and dry, safe from the elements. If your dog will be staying outside, a raised kennel must be provided in order to keep them away from the rain.
  • Exercise – pets should be able to run and move freely. They should not be chained.
  • Your property should be fully fenced.
  • Veterinary treatment – vaccinations and sterilisation should be done. Medical attention must be provided if your pet falls ill. Regular flea and tick medication should be given. There are various tick and flea medications on the market, dosage will depend on each individual brand. Our vets recommend Bravecto, which kills fleas and ticks, and prevents flea infestations for 12 weeks.
  • Kindness – you must be kind to your pet. Animals are sentient beings and can experience pain, sadness, joy.
  • In addition to food and pet supplies, there will be veterinary costs that you will need to budget for.
  • Whether you’re expecting a pet as a present or not, having one in your life can be a rewarding experience. “A pet will love unconditionally and give you long-lasting friendship. Having a pet can even reduce stress levels. When adopting a pet, you also have the knowledge that you have saved a life and given an animal the greatest gift it could ask for,” Giliomee said.

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