One of the most requested Christmas presents among children every year is a new puppy. Pets teach children important lessons and growing up with a loving companion animal can be a great experience for any child. However, as adorable as pets can be, it’s important to consider the long-term requirements of adopting a pet. When Christmas morning has passed and the excitement of the holiday season is over, the everyday care of a pet can be a daunting experience. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking of getting a pet as a Christmas present.
Can You Afford It?
Adopting a pet doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be. It’s possible to find someone who’s pet has recently had puppies or kittens, and who’s happy to send them to a good home for free. However, more often, adoption shelters have fees that help to cover the cost of caring for the animals in the shelter and facilitating their adoptions. Adopting a dog from a shelter can run between $100 and $150. Cats tend to be slightly less expensive.
Once you have your new pet at home, there are costs associated with caring for them long term. The Anti-Cruelty Society advises that you should plan to spend about $1,500 in the first year of caring for a dog. This includes vaccines, veterinary appointments, food, bowls, toys, bedding, and miscellaneous supplies. There are lots of hidden costs in bringing a new pet into the home.
Is Your Home Pet-Friendly?
One of the biggest surprises people encounter in adopting a pet is the number of ways a cat or dog finds to eat, chew, scratch, stain, or otherwise damage everyday household items. Nearly everyone who brings home a new dog, for instance, will have to replace a pair of shoes or favorite scarf that the pup decided to sample one day while he was bored.
Dealing with this inevitable learning curve requires patience. Are you prepared to teach your pet their new surroundings, and train them over time in what to do and not to do? Can you deal with a pet that occasionally marks the house, and needs time to be housebroken? These are things to consider before you bring an adorable animal friend home for the holidays.
Do You Have Time for a Pet?
Cats are largely self-sufficient creatures. They don’t need to be walked and they don’t necessarily want to play fetch. Dogs are a different animal. Most breeds require some measure of exercise and they’ll need your help to get it. Can you commit to walking a pet on a regular basis? Will you or your child have energy to play with him at the end of the day? Remember that pets who are socialized properly are happier and healthier and show fewer destructive behaviors. This means that the more exercise your pup gets, the less likely she is to nibble on your favorite pair of shoes.
Of course, adopting a pet can be a wonderful experience at any time of year. The key is simply to think it through and make sure you’re prepared for the responsibility. Though it seems like an especially sweet gesture at Christmas, bringing home a family pet is a big commitment. As long as you approach it thoughtfully, it can also be thoroughly rewarding.