Getting a pet is a huge choice and a major responsibility. Yet every year so many people give and receive pets as Christmas gifts and so often those pets are either abandoned or returned to a shelter.
A fluffy little kitty or bouncy little puppy under the tree is the not the same as the sweater and socks you received from Aunt Linda. A pet is not an object to return or forget about just because it does not suite the receiver.
However, if you are serious about getting a new pet and have been considering it throughout the year, then maybe Christmas is an extra special time to surprise your family. It all depends on whether or not you are ready to accept the full-time responsibility of a pet.
How to Know if You are Ready for a Pet
Can You Afford It?
Choosing and acquiring a pet isn’t the same as going out for anew pair of shoes. While you may be able to get a pet at a reasonable price (or ever free), you can’t ignore the subsequent costs that come along such as food, supplies and medical care.
If these costs work well into your budget, then you are definitely financially prepared to own a pet. If not, you may want to reconsider the kind of pet your looking at or having a pet at all.
Are You Allowed to Have a Pet?
If you live in a rental situation, your landlord may have rules as to what kinds of pets you can own and how many.
Most animal adoption agencies require written permission from your landlord before you can adopt a pet. This is to prevent returned or abandoned animals due to rental agreements.
Are You Home Enough?
Some animals, especially as babies, need a lot of care and attention. Are you going to be home to potty train a dog? Are you going to be around to make sure a curious kitten doesn’t get stuck in something?
In this day and age, families are very busy. Between school, work and activities, there may not be time to give a new pet the physical and emotional attention they require.
However, if you can hold off on some activities to be home with your pet while they adjust, most animals will grow accustomed to time by themselves as they age.
On another note, if you do have to leave home for an extended period of time, is there someone that can come over and care for your pets? Can your pets go with you? Remember, you can’t press pause on a pet. Even when you’re gone, they will still be there and without you.
Is Your Family Ready for the Responsibility?
Pets require feeding, cleaning, exercise and attention. Is your entire family ready to take on this responsibility? Are your children old enough to help with the care?
The last thing you want is to bring an animal into your home with the expectation that everyone will pitch in but they don’t. Then you are stuck with taking care of everything.
If your little one’s are mature enough to take care of their toys and belongings, then they may be ready for a pet. You can always start with a small pet, such as a hamster or fish, to see if they are willing to take care of it.
Otherwise, you can be proactive and come up with some reward systems for doing pet duties in order to encourage your children to take care of the new animal.