The holiday season sees a massive rise in the sale of pets and in particular puppies. Some of these animals will be lucky; going to families that have researched the breed, understand the husbandry and training needed to stop the puppy becoming a problem dog, and appreciate the associated costs of a decade’s responsibility. Unfortunately though, many of these puppies will be impulse buys.
Phrases such as “how hard can raising a puppy really be?”, and “it will make a lovely Christmas present for the children” make a vet’s heart sink. Sadly, many of these puppies will be left at rescue shelters after Christmas when the reality of owning a dog hits.
Raising a puppy well is very time consuming and a big responsibility. Constant supervision is required for the first few months – teething puppies will chew anything, and an immature puppy bladder means that 4-hourly toilet breaks are required, all week long. Remember, the puppy will grow into an adult dog that will depend on you for EVERYTHING. The average cost of a small breed dog is £15,000 over its life time, and substantially more for a large breed dog.
So please, before buying a puppy for Christmas, do your research and consider adopting from a rescue centre! Talk with your vet, find out the annual costs of vaccinations, preventative healthcare, neutering, possible emergency surgeries etc. Find out the illnesses that your particular breed is predisposed to, and ensure you would be able to cope with these. A dog is a wonderful companion; but is always a privilege, never a ‘necessity’, and certainly never a Christmas gift.
Dr. Kathryn Miller MRVCS