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A pet is for life, not just for Christmas

New Zealand Veterinary Association

22 December 2008

A pet is for life, not just for Christmas.

That's the message from the New Zealand Veterinary Association, following news that puppies are now the most popular search on Trade Me.

"We don't take issue with people using Trade Me to purchase their pets, but we hope their actions are not purely impulsive," says the Association's companion animal spokesperson Dr Pieter Verhoek.

He says while it's tempting, Christmas is not the best time to buy a pet.

"Dogs in particular benefit from a calm environment and a set routine. Many of our members recommend that people wait until the excitement of Christmas is over before introducing a new puppy or kitten."

Because owing a pet is a long-term duty, Dr Verhoek says the recipient must be aware of their responsibilities.

"The cost of owning a cat or dog is not insignificant, when you take into account feeding, veterinary care, licensing and other requirements. Add to that the time and effort involved in training and caring for a pet, and you can see the commitment is considerable."

Veterinarians are also concerned by a trend of abandoning old dogs in favour of puppies.

"Some people really do upgrade their dogs in the way they do their wardrobe or cell phone. Once they're past the cute and cuddly stage, pets are abandoned or surrendered to shelters, which are often overrun in the holiday period."

Dr Verhoek says NZVA is not trying to discourage people from owning pets, but to think carefully about what's involved.

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"Do some research into the breed and find out if it's right for you. People often buy small dogs thinking they will require less exercise and be less boisterous. Anyone who owns a Jack Russell will tell you this is not true. Different breeds have different needs."

It's also important to learn about the puppy's socialisation, vaccinations and nutrition to date and the temperament of the dog's parents (if known).

"Any responsible breeder should let you see not just the puppy you're interested in, but the whole litter and the parents. Health checks should be carried out before buying, and vaccinations and worming should have already started."

Adopting a pet from the SPCA can be a good option because kittens and puppies are desexed and puppies are microchipped. You can also get impartial advice about the type of pet that will suit your lifestyle.

"Regardless of where you get your pet, it's always a good idea to talk to your local vet first"


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