All posts by Louth SPCA

Why Puppies As Christmas Gifts Are A Bad Idea

Surprising your son, daughter, friend, or relative with a pet as a present may seem thoughtful, but it typically doesn’t end well for the cat, dog or other critter. Thousands of them are surrendered to animal shelters by March, some as soon as the first of the New Year simply because families or new owners weren’t prepared for the care and responsibility.

Here are a few reasons why giving pets as surprise Christmas gifts, or any kind of gift, is a bad idea.

Pets and Pet Owners need a Relationship

It’s pretty well known or accepted that the bond between pet and pet owner needs to be very strong and present right from the beginning. You can’t go out and pick just any dog or cat.

It is also tough to build that relationship during such a busy time of year. The surprise pet is already stressed at having been moved, of being introduced to a totally new environment from the pet store or family or shelter that he’s been used to, and really needs a quiet, calm environment. This quieter, calmer time is also necessary for pets and pet owners to establish a routine. With the chaos surrounding the whole holiday season, pets are often neglected.

Plus kids can be unreliable; kids change quickly. You know this! The puppy melts their hearts for a few days or weeks only. But then it needs to be walked every day (in the rain… we live in Ireland, remember?!). It needs careful attention to its feeding and eliminating if it’s going to be housebroken effectively. It needs to be taught not to jump on people. The kids oohing and aahing under the tree will very soon move on to Snapchat and texting their friends and ignoring the poor wee creature….

Pets Require Time, Money and Responsibility

Pets should not be surprise gifts because, particularly for new pet owners, some families are completely unprepared and overwhelmed by the care and expense that a new pet requires. Puppies and kittens especially, but adult dogs, too.

Typically, the larger the dog, the larger the expense for vet care and dog food and the bigger the clean-up both in-house and outside.

Everything that the animal needs to be properly cared for should be discussed and planned well in advance, including the kind and size of dog that best suits families’ individual home situations. Preparation includes realizing how decorations, foods and business at Christmas time can be frightening to animals.

Many parents don’t consider that 2 weeks later the kids are back to school and the puppy still needs walks and plenty of attention (or else it starts chewing things – all sorts of things!). Realistically, it will be YOU looking after this creature, if you think it will be looked after by the children once Christmas is over, you are fooling yourself.

Pet-friendly Alternatives

One alternative is to buy the pet supplies for Christmas and leave choosing the puppy or kitten or whatever, until after things have settled down. If they still want a puppy come the new year, and are willing to take responsibility for it, then maybe it is something that could happen for their birthday.

How to deal with a break up as a pet owner

Experiencing a relationship breakdown is usually a stressful time for all parties involved. It can be made even more upsetting when considering what to do about your pet.

Many of us think of our pet as one of the family and the thought of losing them, as well as dealing with the emotional turmoil of a break up, can at times feel too much.

Sadly 10% of people said they had lost a pet during a break up with a partner, with more than 5% saying they had had to work out visiting hours with an ex.

However, there are a few things that you can think about in order to make the transition for your pet an easier one.

How pet ownership is legally decided

While pet owners will disagree, pets are considered property from a legal standpoint.

If a decision can’t be mutually reached on custody of your pet and you don’t have proof of ownership in your name, a court could decide on legal ownership and the return of the animal. However, they don’t have the power to order the legal owner to give access to the dog to the non-legal owner.

A court may take into consideration the following:

  • who bought the dog?
  • who the key provider is?
  • whose name is registered on the dog’s microchip and insurance?
  • who is registered with the vet?

Pet custody in divorce & separation

The best thing is to settle pet custody outside of court, and to come to a mutual decision together.

These can be hard conversations to have but, if you can, you will need to sit down with your partner and discuss what the arrangements will be regarding who will be keeping your pet, and whether the decision you have made will be the best for them.

The best decision will depend on what pet you have. For instance, if you have a dog and are considering sharing custody, you should consider what schedule will work best for your dog. They should have a key carer who has both the time and money to be able to care for them on their own.

This is slightly different for cats, as they become more attached to their environment and are better staying with the partner who is remaining in the same house. If neither of you are staying in the same place, then you can discuss who is in the best position to keep the cat, bearing in mind things like money, time and location (i.e. is it away from a busy main road?).

Who gets custody with two pets?

If you have two pets, you will need to think about their relationship with each other. If you have two pets that are attached then, while it may seem like the fair decision to have one pet each, this may not be the best decision for them.

However, if your pets are not particularly fond of each other, or seem more content when they are on their own, then splitting them up may be the right option for everyone involved.

How will my pet react to the change in circumstance?

It’s important to remember that your pet can easily sense changes in their environment. This means that if there is tension in the home or arguing, they can pick up on this and this may cause behaviour changes.

If you can, try to keep arguing and emotional discussions to a minimum around your pet.

Be sure to carefully monitor your pet for any changes in behaviour or appetite – this can be an indication that your pet is feeling anxious or stressed. A hormone diffuser such as Feliway or Adaptil can help keep your pet calm during what can be a stressful period of time.

Moving day for your pet

The days leading up to and immediately after your move can be stressful for everyone in the household, including your pet. All your pet has known and become familiar with, in terms of household objects and smells, changes dramatically and it is not surprising that some pets become stressed when moving house, with dogs and cats being most affected.

You may wish to consider placing your pet in a boarding kennel or a family/friends home for the duration of the move, which has the advantage of keeping them safe and stress-free while allowing you to attend to the details of the move. Once safely settled into your new home, with everything unpacked, collect your pet and dedicate the time needed to settle them into the new environment.

Settling your pet into a new home

When settling into your new home, remember that this will be a big change for your pet, so try to keep as much of the same routine as you can. If your pet has a specific time that they usually eat then try to keep this the same. Place familiar bedding and toys around your new home so that they are surrounded by familiar smells and, if you have a dog, try to walk them around the same time that you would usually.

For dogs, it’s a good idea to slowly reintroduce them to being left on their own in your new home. With all the changes in their environment, they may find it hard to adjust in the beginning. Given time and patience, they will get back into their usual routine.

Keeping pets safe at Hallowe’en

Unfortunately Hallowe’en and the days and weeks preceding it can be a very distressing time for animals. The Louth SPCA would like to remind owners to be especially vigilant about their pets at this time of year. Many dogs and cats are either harmed or run away in fright over the next week, quite often ending up dead on the busy and dark roads!

Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe.

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. Once it starts getting dark, fireworks become more frequent.
  • Keep your dogs INSIDE during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. Bringing your dogs out during fireworks is never a good idea. Do NOT leave your dog in the back yard this week at all!
  • Provide a safe place inside for your dogs to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t orient, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option. If you dog or cat likes scurrying in behind the sofa, put a blanket in there for them.
  • If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed. Covering the crate with a blanker or lowering the blinds can also be helpful. Removing visual stimulation can also help calm dogs.
  • Make sure all your dogs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar. If you your dog is not microchipped, they really should be! In fact, it’s now the law in Ireland.
  • Give your dog something fun and distracting to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats, or a big chewy pig’s ear that will keep him busy for a good while.
  • If you MUST go out, leave the TV or radio on louder than usual to muffle the sound of fireworks outside.


As well as keeping them safe from fireworks, remember there are other hazards at this time of year for pets. Here are some do’s and dont’s:

  • DON’T leave animals in a room with lit candles or pumpkins. Dogs can have lethal tails, wagging all over the place. Make sure that lighted candles are kept where they cannot be knocked over by a wagging tail or by a curious cat. Not only could your pet start a fire, but they could severely burn themselves in the process.
  • DON’T dress animals up in costumes as many pets find this uncomfortable and stressful. It’s cute, but it’s also dangerous!
  • DON’T take pets trick-or-treating. Dogs can become very distressed and confused by all the noise and activity with strange smells, costumes and loud bangs from fireworks.
  • DON’T let animals near bonfires, candles or other dangerous items.
  • DO make sure that rabbits and other caged animals are safely secured in a garage or outbuilding, away from the sight and sound of fireworks. As an alternative, the cage can be covered with thick fabric to muffle the sound, making sure there is sufficient ventilation. Horses should be securely stabled or moved to a different location during fireworks displays in the area.
  • DO keep pets away from Halloween decorations and tell children not to share any sweets and chocolate with their pets. Chocolate is very bad for pets.
  • DO take a pet suspected of ingesting a harmful item or substance immediately to a veterinarian.
  • DON’T ignore animals in need. Report animal abuse and neglect immediately to An Gardai Siochana or contact the Louth SPCA at 042 9335045 (even if no answer, please leave a message. It WILL be checked).

R.I.P. Nina

These two lovies won the hearts of all who worked or visited Louth SPCA over past 5 odd years. Nina & Gilly.

In beginning they came because of a fight at their home, then every so often we were asked to mind them. Fiona would pull up at their house and they ran to the van. They loved coming out. The girls took them out for trips to the seaside too. If there was ever a fight they would run to sort it! So for past year they have been left with us and as of 9th October they became honorary members of our family. We love them.

Sadly, at the end of last week Nina lost her very valiant fight against cancer. It was in all her Lymph Nodes and grew very quickly – but at least at the end she was ours. Myself, Shannon and Fiona Mackin were with her in her final hours, so she knew all our voices and hopefully she was comforted.

R.I.P wee lady, you are now pain-free. you will be be missed very much…

Artists for Animals

We are delighted to be hosting a great night of music to raise much needed funds to help animals in our care, on Friday 15th November at 8pm in The Lisdoo, Newry Road, Dundalk.

It’s a night not to be missed with three amazing musical performances from Zoe Conway & John McIntyre, Jim Corr & Liam Monagher and the Oriel Traditional Orchestra. MC on the night is Dundalk personality Mr Harry Lee.

There will be a raffle with lots of great prizes. Finger food will be provided. For those with a pep in your step, DJ Karl Collins from Dundalk FM will provide tunes till late!

Tickets are €20 available from

  • Avenue Vets
  • The Pet Centre, Linenhall St
  • Prize Pets, Riverlane, Dundalk

Also available at the door on the night. Doors open at 7.30pm.

Should I adopt a dog?

Among companion animals, dogs are unmatched in their devotion, loyalty and friendship to humankind. Anyone who has ever loved a dog can attest to its hundred-fold return. The excitement your dog shows when you come home, the wagging tail at the sound of the leash being taken from its hook, the delight in the tossing of a tennis ball, and the head nestled in your lap-those are only some of the rewards of being a dog owner.

Owning a dog is not just a privilege-it’s a responsibility. These animals depend on us for, at minimum, food and shelter, and deserve much more. If you are considering taking a dog into your life, you need to think seriously about the commitment that dog ownership entails. If you already have a dog, you need to consider if you are fulfilling all your obligations as its owner.

Consider the following carefully – Are You Really Ready To Get A Dog?

  • Have you done homework, such as reading about housebreaking, training, behavioral problems, and daily care of a dog? And what kinds of dogs are best for you and your family?
  • Will your working hours allow enough time to provide the care and exercise a dog needs every day?
  • If you have children, will you have time to provide the daily care and exercise a dog needs every day?
  • Will you have enough money to cover food, toys, annual vet exams, vaccinations, monthly heartworm preventative, flea control, unexpected medical costs, grooming, training, and boarding the pet when you travel?
  • Are you ready to live with a pet? Can you depend on your children not to pester a dog and let a dog out the door? Will you be able to watch the dog at all times when children visit your home?
  • If considering a puppy, will you be able to arrange for midday visits — since puppies need to go out every 4 hours or so to become housebroken?
  • Do you have time for obedience training and teaching house manners as necessary to help the dog become a good companion?
  • Do you travel frequently, and if so, what are your plans for the dog?
  • If you move, can you be sure your next place will allow dogs?
  • Can you make the commitment to care for this animal for his or her lifetime?

Tortoiseshell Kitty

Tortoiseshell kitty, is just one a a few cats in the last week found all over the place. Avenue Road Vets in Dundalk have a few in there if interested in homing a cat. We would love to find them all new homes!

If you already have a cat, PLEASE get them neutered!

Apply For Homing

Day-time contact number.
An email we can reach you at. Does not have to yours, but you need access to it.
Type the name of the animal from the above description.
Please help us out by describing where you live, family members, and why you feel your home will be ideal. We WILL carry out a home inspection if you are chosen.
Please consent to your data being stored by us for future use internal to the society.
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German Shepherd x Labrador, 1 year old, young man. Is to be neutered this week. Has lived in a house with other dog. Would need bit of training but is a happy lad. Will make a great pet for right family.

Apply For Homing

Day-time contact number.
An email we can reach you at. Does not have to yours, but you need access to it.
Type the name of the animal from the above description.
Please help us out by describing where you live, family members, and why you feel your home will be ideal. We WILL carry out a home inspection if you are chosen.
Please consent to your data being stored by us for future use internal to the society.
You're going to need to prove that!
reCAPTCHA is required.


Coco is a Pomeranian, he is a house dog and has lived in an adult household. He is only 1 year old and is to be neutered this week. Busy wee lad, likes to run about, would need owner that has time to give and a bit of training.

Apply For Homing

Day-time contact number.
An email we can reach you at. Does not have to yours, but you need access to it.
Type the name of the animal from the above description.
Please help us out by describing where you live, family members, and why you feel your home will be ideal. We WILL carry out a home inspection if you are chosen.
Please consent to your data being stored by us for future use internal to the society.
You're going to need to prove that!
reCAPTCHA is required.