Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

March 23, 2012

You received a pet as a gift . . . What now?

(Continued)

CNHI News Service —

“Before you bring a puppy home,” says Dr. Stickney, “there are a few things you will need to purchase. These include food and water bowls, puppy food, appropriate chew items such as a small rawhide or squeak toy, and a crate for house breaking and for providing the dog its own area. A kitten will also need food and water bowls, kitten food, and a litter box, particularly one with low sides for a smaller kitten.”

If you have existing pets, you will need to slowly introduce the new pet to them. You will also need to take the new pet to a veterinarian within a week for a physical examination and to get it dewormed and vaccinated.

“Puppies and kittens come with their own unique warnings,” adds Stickney, “especially around the holidays. Be prepared for some destruction and messiness. If you have guests visiting, be sure to alert them to the presence of the puppy or kitten so that they do not accidentally step on or sit on your new friend. Also watch that your pet does not climb underneath furniture, like recliners, where it can be squished.”

Additionally, kittens may try to climb Christmas trees or swat ornaments. They, and puppies, may chew on tinsel. If tinsel is accidentally swallowed, it could require an emergency surgery. Puppies may gnaw on electrical cords, causing a severe shock. They may also try to get into treats such as dark chocolate, which will make them very sick.

Providing a new home for a pet can be a big commitment, so pet ownership should never be an unexpected gift. An unwelcome pet needs to be cared for until a suitable solution is reached and should never be dumped to fend for itself. Do your research, and if you decide that you have the resources to take in a lucky kitten or puppy this holiday season, make sure to provide for all of its needs so that it can grow into a healthy adult companion.

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Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

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