If you are considering offering a home to a four-legged friend this Christmas, this must be a ‘forever’ home so before you even begin to consider the idea, make sure that you yourself are stable and not likely to move away to somewhere where your pet will be unable to accompany you, for example to rented accommodation where pets are not allowed. Spain is one of the worst countries in the Europe for its numbers of abandoned pets, don’t let your’s become one of them.
- Once you have decided to welcome a bundle of fur into your family, you need to make your home pet-proof. Move any dangling cords out of reach or tape them down, as small animals can easily get tangled up in them or strangle themselves. Move any breakable objects can be fixed down with Blue-Tack or, moved out of reach, together with any small, sharp objects which your pet could easily swallow. In other words, put away anything that you don’t want them to get their paws on, in the same way as if you had a toddler in the house. You may even wish to cover your best furniture with throwovers for protection. Remember, anything that is yours is attractive and must be investigated and played with.....
You will need to stock up with food, plenty of toys, and a soft, warm bed. This will give your friend a chance to acclimatise to your home. If a bed is not provided, then expect your pet to adopt one of your favourite chairs or your sofa to sleep on. For puppies, you will need a collar and a lead, and for kittens, a brush, a litter tray and a scratching post. It is important to buy specialist foods for kittens and puppies for at least their first year, as they contain all the proteins, vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth. Your puppy will need to be trained, but most kittens will instinctively use a tray.
Give your pet a name early on and repeat it often, so that your friend will come to you when called.
From the age of eight to ten weeks, make an appointment with your vet to have your friend vaccinated. Most of the vaccinations can be done in one visit, a booster given one month later, followed by annual revaccination in most cases. Remember that if you wish to travel with your pet, microchipping and vaccination against rabies are not only essential, but law.
At this point or before, no doubt your vet will discuss sterilisation, which is usually done before the animal reaches sexual maturity.
Give your pet the best possible start in life, lots of affection, and in return you will receive many years of joy and unconditional love.