When the Christmas list includes a furry friend: Advice for pet-giving clients

November 15, 2018
Julia Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Albright is an assistant professor of veterinary behavior and PetSafe Chair of Small Animal Behavioral Research at the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Puppies and kittens are gifts that keep on giving (and taking your things and ripping them to shreds). Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Julia Albright provides some points for potential pet-gifters to ponder before placing a new companion under the Christmas tree.

Mr. Eleven belongs to dvm360 Multimedia Producer Troy Van Horn. He does not belong in the Christmas tree.As the holidays approach, many are thinking of surprising a loved one with that most squeal-worthy of gifts: a puppy or kitten. We asked Fetch dvm360 conference speaker Julia Albright, MA, DVM, DACVB, if that's a good idea. (Don't worry-she's no buzzkill.)

According to Dr. Albright, one common thought is that gifted pets, which can seem like a sweet gift idea under twinkling lights, are more likely to wind up in shelters come the new year. However, she cites an ASPCA study that found no correlation between pets that were gifted and pets that were relinquished.

"As long as the person receiving the pet knows about it and is prepared to take care of the pet, it should not be an issue," Dr. Albright says.

Care for Christmas critters

If a client is welcoming a furry new gift, they may need a little guidance. Help them out with one of dvm360's puppy or kitten handouts. These free client resources cover everything from feeding to socialization to, yes, housetraining.

Of course, mentally and physically preparing to take care of a pet isn't a small task, and it can be especially difficult at Christmastime. One reason: potty training. In many places, the holiday season naturally coincides with cold weather. This can be a factor when housetraining puppies who may need to go outside when weather conditions are more favorable for staying under a blanket. Dr. Albright does support crate training and the use of training pads, but she notes that the former can be time consuming and the latter isn't immediately recognizable to young puppies.

Oh, yeah-what about kittens, anyway?

"Kittens don't tend to cause us quite as much disruption, but they can be quite destructive and wake us up on the middle of the night," she says.

Watch the video for more from Dr. Albright that you can pass on to potential pet-gifters:

You. Can. Do. This!

At Fetch dvm360 conference, we're the support system you need. With every conference this year, we intend to nurture your mind (meaning quality CE for days) while also encouraging you to take stock of your physical and emotional health. Register now.