First, if the pet is a kitten or puppy, it is likely that this will become a member of the family for many years to come. On average, large breed dogs can live 12-13 years old and smaller breed dogs can live to be 15-16 years old. A cat’s lifespan can average between 15-16 years old, but some do live to be 20! Regardless, it is a lifetime commitment for that individual pet, and with that comes certain responsibilities: providing adequate shelter, food, and water, and appropriate health maintenance. Yearly wellness examinations are recommended for each pet, regardless of age. Once the pet reaches senior age (dogs >7 years old, cats >8-9 years old), yearly wellness bloodwork is recommended to monitor overall organ function. Even if no problems are noted at home, yearly wellness bloodwork can aid the veterinarian in identifying a disease in the early stages BEFORE it is evident to the owner.
Second, not every breed is meant for every person. Each breed has its own list of specific diseases or anatomical abnormalities that they may br predisposed to. Becoming an owner of a “problem-proned” breed can be a time commitment and a financial commitment. Many of the purebred organizations, as well as the AKC (American Kennel Club) have breed specific websites available with important information regarding the breed. Always research a breed of dog or cat before purchasing or adopting to ensure that it will be a suitable fit for the family. There are also numerous purebred dogs and cats that find their way to shelters every year, so make sure to visit the local shelter or breed rescue organizations when searching for a pet as well.
Lastly, Christmas can be a very stressful time for the introduction of a new puppy or kitten. There are often numerous visitors stopping by, the family schedule is not what it typically may be, and there are plenty of opportunities for a new pet to consume something it shouldn’t (whether it be a toxic food or a new toy). The recommendation is generally to wait until after the holidays when it is easier to get into a new “routine” with the pet, especially if house-training a new puppy. Less visitors in the house mean less stress on the pet and less opportunity for them to sneak a treat that they should not have. It may also decrease the pet’s exposure to an illness that could be brought into their new surroundings by a visitor (pet or human).
If you have any questions regarding a new pet or a specific breed, please feel free to contact your family veterinarian.