What could be better than introducing a furry, fluffy, loyal pal to your life, especially during the holidays? There’s no doubt there are many benefits to owning a pet. But before you bring a dog or cat home, there are a few things to consider:
Don't make an impulse buy
If you’re up against a holiday deadline, you may be tempted to make an impulse purchase. Do your research and understand the type of care and commitment your potential pet will need. Cats and dogs are very different, and the recipient will no doubt have a preference for one over the others. Cats don’t need walks in the park or to be brought outside so they may be good for someone who has odd hours or has a more sedentary lifestyle. When it comes to dogs, different breeds appeal to different people. Consider size of breed, frequency of exercise, whether or not they need a lot of space. Think about things such as size of dogs, how much exercise they need. “It’s important to really talk things through ahead of time with your family,” reminds Dr. Chip. “Different breeds have different requirements for exercise and care. You need to be sure you’re all on the same page.”
Consider lifestyle and how a pet will fit in
Does the owner have a demanding career that means not a lot of time for dog walks and playing in the park? Do they live in an apartment building or in close proximity to others and therefore need a quiet pet? Are there small children in the home that should be considered in your pet and breed choice?
Consider possible health issues
Does anyone in the family have allergies? Some people have allergies to one species but not another. There is also different severity of allergies that might impact your choice.
Consider the costs
Before you bring a new pet home, make sure you understand how much it’s going to cost to care for your pet. The CVMA annual cost of care study estimates the cost of owning a puppy to be $2,749 in the first year, and a kitten is $1,661. These estimates include everything from food, bedding, litter for cats, obedience training for dogs, and pet insurance. For a full list of the cost of owning a puppy or a kitten, view our infographics on the cost of care in the first year:
Visit animal shelters
Visiting shelter will give you an idea of the kind of dog or cat you’d like; take your time and visit a few shelters to see what animals are out there and available for adoption. You’ll also be able to see the animals up close and get a better idea of their size and look, more than you will from a photo online.
Go with your gut
You’ll know whether it’s the right pet for you once you see it and spend time with it.
If you do all your homework and a pet’s the right choice then congratulations! You’ll be getting someone a new best friend! If you still like the idea of a pet but want to make sure you’re making the right choice, how about wrapping a stuffed animal, pet dish or a collar and putting it under the tree? When the gift gets opened, explain that you want to give them a furry friend, but that you want everyone to be a part of it. You’ll still get credit for your wonderful idea, but you won’t be worried about where to put the puppy that isn’t housebroken yet when you’re hosting the big family get-together.
By taking your time, doing your research, and choosing a less busy time of year for your new addition, the dog or cat that joins your family has the best chance of making a great first impression and being a source of joy and companionship for years to come.