It’s that time of year again. Carols are being sung, candles are being lit, and the stress over finding the perfect present has taken up residence in your brain. Maybe your children or favorite niece or nephew have been begging for months now. Whatever your reason for contemplating buying a pet as a holiday gift, please consider the topics below before you make your decision.
One of the first things you should consider before buying a pet is the financial commitment it will demand. Even if you choose to get your cat or dog from a shelter, there are adoption fees to be paid. It’s also a good idea to have your pet spayed or neutered before bringing them home to keep them from having any puppies or kittens in the future (unless that’s what you want). You’ll need to account for toy purchases and weekly food bills, of course, and plan for regular veterinarian visits. Having your animal, especially if it’s a dog, attend a proper training program is a good idea, although that, too, won’t come cheap.
Time and attention
Another factor is that the average lifespan of a dog or cat is 10 to 15 years, so make sure you (or the recipient of your furry gift) are prepared to commit to good pet ownership for that length of time. Beyond the years lived, all animals require attention and care. A lack of attention can lead to more than just loneliness—many behavioral problems are the result of neglect. For that reason, if the primary caregiver works long hours or travels a lot, it may be hard to fit a pet in their life unless someone else is at home to help.
It’s important to keep in mind that there will be an adjustment period for all involved. Patience will be required to get you through the early days. It’s also a good idea to discuss among your family or roommates who will be the primary caregiver. Make sure everyone’s roles are discussed and understood and that everyone involved is on board with the addition of another household member.
Commitment to well-being
Knowing that your pet will be with you for some time, are you prepared to commit yourself to their long-term well-being? Will you be able to handle (both financially and emotionally) unexpected illnesses that require veterinarian visits? Can you afford to purchase pet insurance, which may help alleviate this uncertainty
Beyond that, do you or anyone else in the house have allergies? If you have kids, is the pet you’d like to adopt suitable for them? If you rent, does your lease allow you to have pets?
Take a beat, then decide
Obviously, there’s quite a bit to contemplate before jumping into pet ownership. Although our four-legged friends bring an immense amount of joy to our lives, you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of time you put into this decision. It might also be a good idea to discuss with friends and family who already have pets to see if they have any advice before you decide.