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My Pet World: Do our pets need holiday presents, too?

November 30, 2010|By Steve Dale

Q: My husband lost his corporate job six months ago, and his prospects have not improved. I was a stay-at-home mom who went back to work part time. We have three kids (ages 5 to 11) and three dogs (two Labs and a Lab/golden retriever-mix). We've always taught the kids that our pets are members of the family, and in past years we've given each a holiday gift. We can't afford to do that this year. Is this fair to our pets, and should I worry about the message we're sending our kids? — V.D., Miami

A: Many pets, and people, are going without this holiday season, but as so many wonderful holiday movies tell us, we can be thankful for what we do have.

As for our pets, they live each day being thankful for what they have. They also don't care what kind of car you drive, whether you have the key to the executive restroom at work, or if your job is to clean that restroom. They love us for who we are.

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According to the American Pet Products Assn.'s National Pet Owners Survey, 52% of dog owners and 39% of cat owners bought holiday gifts for their pets in 2009. Given the weak economy, you can't help but wonder if owners will be less generous this year.

"What matters most is that we give our pets something. It's how we feel about the pets and how we enjoy showing them our love," says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Assn. It seems to me that teaching your kids the joy of giving is what matters, and if I know Labradors, they'll express the joy of receiving even a used tennis ball.

Q: I have a lovable 13-year-old Siamese cat. Since January, Sammy's lost four pounds, and my vet seems at a loss. A blood test showed nothing, suggesting the kidneys and thyroid were normal. We also checked for worms. Last week alone, Sammy lost 3 ounces. He's eating and drinking normally. Do we have a right to ask for our records, and then take those to another vet for a second opinion? — R.J., Cyberspace

A: Your concern is valid. Imagine you or I losing 20% of our body weight in a year's time.

"Definitely, something is going on with your cat, and you are right to pursue this," says feline veterinarian Dr. Sharon Eisen, of Brookfield, Conn..

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