3Qs: Dr. Stephen King, Tupelo veterinarian

By Stephanie Rebman/NEMS DAILY JOURNAL

Christmas and holiday periods in general are a common time for people to add pets to their household, often as gifts for children. Dr. Stephen King, a Tupelo veterinarian, answered questions from the Daily Journal’s Stephanie Rebman for new Christmas pet owners and anyone contemplating taking on a pet.

Q. What are some tips and advice you have for people who are getting a new pet at Christmas?
A. Make sure everyone involved is receptive to the idea of a new pet and that they will have ample time to spend with the new member of the family. A good quality dry food is also recommended.
Especially during the busy holiday season, make sure the new pet has a quiet area that it may call its own. It may be even better to delay the arrival of the new pet until the holiday season has passed.
Start house training early. Make sure to take a puppy outside often – at least every few hours at first. Crate training may be considered when you are unable to watch the puppy, but it is very time dependent.
A puppy should also have scheduled feeding times. A consultation with your veterinarian is recommended when deciding how best to handle house training and feeding schedules.
A kitten will need a litter box that is cleaned daily. The general rule with indoor cats is to have a litter box per cat plus one.

Q. What are some tips for keeping your pet safe during the holiday season of big meals and big gatherings?
A. Table food is not recommended for our pets. Table foods can result in severe digestive upset and even death. Therefore, sometimes out of sight, out of mind is wise.
If the pets are not around during the holiday meals, especially if guests are present, then no one is tempted to feed them from the table.

Q. Often people get animals not realizing how much work they are or get sick of them once they leave the puppy or kitten stage. What can you advise for people in this situation?
A. Again, make sure everyone involved is receptive to the idea of a new pet. One of the most terrible messages I have seen parents send their children is that a pet is disposable.
Pets are a huge commitment with immeasurable rewards. If you are not willing to make a 15-plus-year commitment, then perhaps you should reconsider pet ownership.

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