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Get Ahead Kids® Feature Article
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 5 - September/October 2013

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Giving Pets as Gifts

With Christmas fast approaching, many parents will be considering buying pets as a gift. While this is a great idea and pets often morph into an extra family member, pets are a long term responsibility and need lots of care and attention.

Deciding on a family pet is a big decision and there are lots of factors to consider including:

  • Can you afford the cost of a pet?
  • What kind of animal do you want?
  • What breed should you choose?
  • Do you want a baby animal?
  • Should you consider adopting a rescue animal?
  • Do you have the space for the animal to roam?
  • Do you live in strata that has restrictions on animals?

It's important to choose an animal that will fit with your family and lifestyle as well as your physical environment - for example, a large dog may not be ideal for your family if you have a very small backyard, if you go away a lot, or do not have time to exercise it.

Remember to take care of the miscellaneous requirements that come with pets - this includes ensuring they are wormed regularly, vaccinations are kept up to date and that they are micro chipped.

It is also important to seriously consider desexing your pet, especially if you
live in an area where your pets can come into contact with other animals in the neighbourhood. While these tasks might seem a bit of a pain and require expensive visits to the vet, they are essential to ensure your new pet can remain healthy and safe.

If purchasing a dog, it is necessary to take it to puppy school to get it trained and socialised so there are no issues at parks and dog beaches.
If space permits, and your kids are desperate for a pet of a bigger variety - a horse - it is recommended that you take your kids to riding lessons and/or lease a pony for a few months to ensure the novelty of horse riding doesn't wear off. While you can find great beginner ponies at reasonable prices, the add on costs of horse riding can be astronomical - think clothes, helmet, boots, saddle, bridle, rugs, feed and farrier costs as well as a horse float if you intend to go to pony club and gymkhanas.

If you are unsure whether your family is ready to commit to a high-maintenance pet such as a cat, dog or horse, start off smaller with a goldfish, chicken, rabbit or guinea pig.

These types of pets generally take up less space, require less care and attention and are not as expensive to maintain.

Checklist

  • Ensure you can afford the pet - vet bills, micro chipping, vaccinations & pet food are expensive
  • Research the type of animal & breed you want - do you have time for a big dog that requires a lot of attention & exercise?
  • Create a duties chart so the kids take it in turns to feed, groom & walk your pet
  • If you don't want your pet to multiply, get it desexed! This will eliminate the risk of one pet turning into seven
  • Visit your local pound or vet & consider adopting a rescue animal.
  • There are lots of advantages to adopting a rescue animal - older animals may already be house trained &
    socialised & baby animals are also often available at rescue shelters
  • Kids haven't had much interaction with animals? It's worth getting them allergy tested prior to purchasing that big fluffy cat you have your eye on
  • Remember! Pets are a lifetime commitment - not a novelty!



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