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Ask a Vet: Be wary of giving pets as Easter gifts
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I recommend people having pets.

Yes, there is a conflict of interest, as my livelihood depends on people with pets and seeking health care for them. But if I was independently wealthy, I’d still recommend pets. They help you through tough times and benefit you in ways you’d never realize.

But sometimes I recommend second-guessing yourself when considering a pet for your own good as well as the good of the animal.

I don’t recommend pets as presents, unless the recipient is prepared for the joys and pains of ownership. Spider-Man teaches us with great power comes great responsibility. Pets are another example of that truism.

So when the holidays come around, I urge you to make sure you really need the animal. This is especially true around Easter. In our country, no other holiday has as strong a tie to specific species of pets. And unfortunately, those pets aren’t the most widely understood.

Having a rabbit as a pet can be great, but they are not small dogs or cats. They have significantly different needs with regards to husbandry and nutrition.

If you feed rabbits only carrots, your rabbit will die. Rabbits weren’t even associated with carrots until Bugs Bunny became popular.

If you don’t work diligently to maintain dental health, your rabbit will suffer. If you hold your rabbit incorrectly and she jumps, she may break her own back.

Therefore, I encourage all would-be pet owners to educate yourself before buying a bunny for Easter.

Ducklings similarly need special consideration. Adult ducks often care for themselves. But if raised from a hatchling by humans, ducks may lack some survival skills.

And like most animals, baby ducks grow. Sometimes adult ducks aren’t cuddly. Sometimes they’re bullies. But even if gregarious, they will have specific needs. Know them before committing.

If the recipient is ready, these can be great pets. If not, everyone may suffer.

Sometimes the chocolate bunny is the better option.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about pets? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.

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