Making sure pets are not just for Christmas

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By Jocasta Baines

If your child has been begging for a puppy or kitty, or you think a pet would add an extra spark of happiness to your home, you may have considered bringing home a pet as a present. The sad truth however, is that abandoned animals are all too common in Nova Scotia, with the SPCA noting that kittens and puppies are often left by the wayside or on public roads, sometimes when they are newly born. The Nova Scotia SPCA has warned residents that “buying a pet as a present isn’t the best idea.” This is only true, of course, if you aren’t adopting or buying the pet for yourself.

Cost of Pets in Canada

Research undertaken by indicates that the cost of a pet in its first year of life is as follows: $2,600.10 for a puppy and $1,921.12 for a kitten. Costs are more expensive initially because they involve purchasing items like beds, bowls, a leash and carrier. You will also be advised by your veterinarian to spay your pet and to microchip your pet for future identification. As your pet gets older, you may continue to have unexpected expenses such as surgery for issues like corneal ulcers or fractures incurred while your pet is playing, running, or socializing with other animals. Pet insurance is one way to ensure you aren’t suddenly required to fork out thousands for an operation. Costs can also be kept low by opting for affordable treats and toys instead of making on-the-spot purchases at expensive stores.

Stressed Out

Hundreds of Nova Scotians miss work daily because of stress, according to research completed at Queen’s University. Many find that they simply don’t have the time to comply with the conflicting demands of their work and family time. Bringing a dog home is fabulous over the festive season, but will you have enough time during the year to take your dog for two long walks a day, can you take time off work to take it to the vet, and will you be constant with necessities like regular deworming and flea and tick treatments? Some pets evidently require more time than others. Dogs, for instance, suffer when they are separated from their owner for too many hours, while cats are more independent. An exotic pet like an iguana, meanwhile, needs many hours of patient training and socialization.

Pets and Third Parties

If you have the time and money it takes to be a responsible pet owner, there is no reason why you can’t time the addition of a new pet to your home, opting for Christmas to make the moment your pet greets everyone for the first time, extra magical. Giving pets to friends and family that do not live with you, however, is less ideal because they may accept the pet in the spur of the moment, then decide it has no room in their lives. If a pet is welcomed into your own home, however, you can ensure you have control over its health and wellbeing.

Shelters in Nova Scotia

‘Shop, don’t adopt’ is a fantastic motto to follow if you wish to ‘pay it forward’ while enriching your own life with a new pet. The Homeward City Pound, Lillian Albon Animal Shelter, Home to Stay Dog Rescue, and SPCAs are just a few shelters you can visit to find a new furry best friend. These shelters have young and senior pets alike, so make sure to visit both — senior pets are fantastic with kids and are generally tranquil. Moreover, they are house trained, so will require less training time.

The festive season could just be the perfect time for you and your family to visit a local shelter to take a pet home. All you need to do beforehand is crunch a few numbers and see if a pet is affordable (include insurance costs in your calculations as a safeguard). Make sure to pick a pet that is perfect for your lifestyle, and if you have kids, opt for pets with a suitable temperament.

Photo by André Spieker on Unsplash