Think about the long term when giving a dog or cat as a gift.
Holiday giving often seems a great opportunity to add a furry friend to the family. A new puppy or kitten is regularly found on children’s Christmas lists. While this may be a perfect time to add a pet to your household, there are several important things to consider before making the decision to give a pet on any occasion.
Families should make a list of wants and needs for the new pet. For example, do you want a lap buddy, a running partner, a playmate for the kids? No matter what type of pet you are thinking about, the time and expense a new pet will require, as well as everyone's expectations of the new member of the family, should all be thought through and discussed.
Who will be the primary caretaker? Any pet requires daily time and attention, but some are more time-intensive than others. They can also be costly. People often account for the initial investment but don't always think about the fees for routine veterinary care or the costs of feeding and grooming. The costs associated with properly caring for a pet must be considered. Pet insurance is an option that can help with costs and should be factored into the cost of care. Check out our article on pet insurance; consider having an emergency plan. It's a great investment to consider for any pet!
Some types of pets are easier to assimilate into a family’s normal routine. Others can take a lot more initial investment of time and energy. While dogs make good pets, they tend to require the most in terms of time and attention. Most puppies have lots of energy, and significant time is required for adequate training. Evaluate how much time you actually have to devote to a new puppy. An adult dog from a reputable rescue organization might be a better option for families involved in multiple activities or households that include young children. Temperament and energy level must be taken into account in deciding if the dog will fit into your family's lifestyle. Although every dog has its own personality, if considering a purebred dog, research the traits of the breed. Certain characteristics are consistent in breeds that may or may not be desirable for your family dynamics.
Cats also make good pets. Although less time-intensive than dogs, they still require regular attention, grooming, and daily maintenance. Instead of getting a kitten, consider an adult cat as an option for your family for the same reasons as an adult dog.
A pocket pet, such as guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters or rats, to name a few, might be the best choice for your busy family. These animals require less attention to manage and can be a good choice for the active family who would like to have a pet but may not have the extra time to devote to a dog or cat.
With proper preparation, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for parents and children to have a beloved pet as a member of the family. Consider not only your family's needs and wants, but also those of the pet. Be prepared for your new addition before you are overwhelmed by the needs of your new pet and make the transition an enjoyable process for everyone involved.