Christmas KittenWhile a puppy or kitten may be on the top of many a Christmas list, there is a lot to consider before putting a new pet under the tree. Taking on a new family member is a huge responsibility and a big commitment. With 6 to 8 million dogs and cats entering shelters every year, selecting a pet that is right for an individual family and situation is extremely important.

Some things to consider before giving a pet as a gift:

  • Lifestyle—Some pets require much more care than others. Families who travel a lot or are busy with many other commitments may not have the ability to care for a higher needs pet. Likewise, everyone has different tolerances for the messes a new pet may make in their home.
  • Time—Certainly caring for and training a puppy or kitten is much more labor-intensive than caring for a pet rabbit or an older, well-trained pet. Think about how much time can be devoted to the new pet before making a decision.
  • Space—While a guinea pig may take up a small corner of the home, a Border Collie is going to need room to run and play. Think about the area that the pet will live in and whether it will adequately fulfill the new pet’s needs.
  • Budget—Pets cost money beyond the initial investment. They must eat and need veterinary care. Pets often require equipment such as collars, leashes, toys, and enclosures. You may need to pay for licensing and some places will require a pet deposit. Take into account how much a new pet will cost on a monthly basis.

Please think carefully before giving a furry gift this holiday season, and certainly do not do so without discussing the idea at length with the recipient. While our pets bring smiles to our faces daily, it is important to know that you can provide them with a stable and loving home that will last a lifetime.