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Adoption Advice from a Vet

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This week I had a chat with Dr Nic from Sydney Pet Vet. Dr Nic has worked closely with animals for over 15 years and is now a small animal general practitioner. He isn’t your average vet – with a passion for helping people enhance their relationship with their pet and a very up close and personal vlog channel – we are very proud to have Dr Nic on board to answer some questions about animal adoption!

Hi Dr Nic!

Hi everybody!

It’s obvious that your passionate about animals, but can you tell us what made you want to be a vet? 

During my late teenage years, I worked in a well-known public aquarium as an Assistant Educator where I delivered educational workshops on wildlife and conservation. It was the experience of changing people's minds and speaking to them about how a large proportion of wildlife species were endangered by poachers and the illegal pet trade that shaped my desire to work with animals. Having worked in various animal-related industries in differing capacities, it seemed like a natural progression for me to become a veterinarian so I could help sick animals. This has accumulated in the opening of my own veterinary clinic, Sydney Pet Vet, in Surry Hills coming Spring 2015.

Did you have a pet growing up and do you have any now?

I fondly remember my childhood days where I had rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, dogs and cats as pets. Some came into my life as pets my parents adopted, whilst others were strays I took in. Right now I have two English Staffies, Diesel and Dolce, and a guinea pig, which I have yet to name, that I rescued after being found abandoned in a local park. I would love to adopt a cat and more guinea pigs.

Fantastic, that’s quite a range of animals! A lot of people look to adopt puppies and kittens but there are a lot of other animals that need adoption too. Can you provide any advice on adopting an animal? 

Before adopting a new pet into your life, it is important to consider both your needs and the needs of any new pet that comes into your life. Here are some questions to consider:

  • The average lifespan of dogs and cats for example is around 12 years. Can you commit to your pet's long-term care?
  • There are many costs involved with pet ownership such as vet bills, food, toys, pet insurance etc. Can you financially afford a pet?
  • It is crucial that pet owners meet the physiological, behavioural and social needs of the pet. Have you thoroughly researched the species-specific needs of your chosen pet?
  • Long working hours and a busy social life are common for Sydney-siders. Caring for a pet requires a considerable amount of time each day. Do you have the time to care for a pet?
  • A lot of Sydney-siders live in shared or rental accommodation. However, you can still keep a pet if you obtain permissions from your house mates or landlord. Since renting is often a temporary situation, what will happen if you have to move?

If someone was looking to adopt a mature age pet, what advice could you give them?

Here are some misconceptions I hear from people who do not want to adopt older pets.

"Older pets may be set in their ways and, therefore, may be harder than puppies/kittens to integrate with your current existing pets." 

Older pets have been around the block and already learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of the family. You can always teach an old pet new tricks. They are often calmer and have longer attention span compared to youngsters.

"Mature age pets do not live as long, and I am having my heart broken when they die." 

A dog or cat's average lifespan is 12 years. This may not be appropriate for the elderly or those with certain long-term plans. In shelters, older animals are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanised. Providing a loving home for a mature age pet and saving an animal's life offer an unparalleled emotional return.

"Senior pets can be expensive, since they require more medical attention than the younger animals."

This is not necessary true. Since senior pets have already had their vaccinations, desexing, anti-parasitic treatments etc done prior to being adopted, so you are actually getting a discount! Veterinary attention and medication are needed at all ages and may not be more expensive than a senior pet. Arthritis is a common problem in older pets but this can be easily managed with the correct diet, exercise and medications that do not cost an arm and a leg.

I understand that you are a small animal general practitioner. Can you give us some advice on adopting rabbits or guinea pigs? Would you recommend adopting these types of pets? I personally have a rabbit and adore him, but we did have a lot of problems with his teeth and I wish I had known that beforehand so I could have been better prepared.

As a small animal general practitioner, I am also experienced in rabbits and guinea pigs veterinary care. Pocket pets make ideal companions if you have restricted living spaces like many Sydney-siders who live in small apartments. They are such sweet docile critters!

Rabbits and guinea pigs may look like they are less demanding when it comes to care but they require the same commitments as owning a dog or cat. Points to remember are similar to adopting a puppy or kitten as mentioned earlier. However a lot of people do not know that rabbits and guinea pigs can live up to 10 years! They are especially prone to dietary problems which can lead to obesity, dental diseases and gastrointestinal upset. At Sydney Pet Vet, we are experienced in taking care of pocket pets.

Yes I have to admit that’s a misconception I had about my rabbit. I didn’t realise they could experience the same types of health problems as dogs and cats (such as dental disease and dietary problems). They’re also incredibly affectionate and sweet! I think it’s important to remember there are plenty of other animals that need adoption as well.

Do you have any other advice for people thinking of adopting an animal?

One of the most satisfying aspects of adopting a pet from a shelter is that you know that you are saving a life and providing a loving home for a deserving animal. The adoption fees you pay will benefit other homeless pets that are waiting for their forever home. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, you can always look up specific breed rescues. How about fostering a pet before it finds a home? A "second-hand" pet is in no way "defective". Most pets available for adoption are vet-checked, vaccinated, micro-chipped, desexed, and parasite protected, saving you a tidy sum of money compared to buying a pet from a pet store or backyard breeders.

To find out more about Dr Nic, please visit http://www.sydneypetvet.com.au/

Photo credit Juliana Oh

Written by Louise Milazzo

Courtney Meyer