Adopting a pet as a holiday gift can sound like a great idea. After all, the image of a fuzzy puppy or kitten popping out from under the Christmas tree is enough to melt the hearts of every Grinch and Scrooge out there.
Unfortunately, this heartwarming scene doesn’t always have a happy ending. Adopting a pet is a huge responsibility that should involve significant thought and planning.
Factors to Consider
Whether you are planning to surprise a loved one with a pet or adopting one for yourself, there are several important factors to consider:
- Recipient – Who is the pet intended for? Some people like animals but don’t actually want to live with one. Does the recipient have any allergies that should be considered? Also, when giving a child a pet, it’s important for parents to understand that they are ultimately responsible for the care of any animal in their home. Children can often be too distracted or immature to take on the responsibilities and some older kids may just not have the interest or time long term.
- Cost – Food, veterinary care, grooming, and training costs can really add up over the life of a pet. Make sure that whomever the pet is intended for can cope with the added financial burden of pet supplies, food, training, and veterinary care.
- Lifestyle – What will the new pet’s daily life look like? Will there be enough time to play with and care for the pet, to take it on walks and provide training, or is everyone gone all day and doing activities in the evenings and weekends? A lonely and untrained pet can become a frustrated and destructive pet, especially, if it is a high energy breed that needs a lot of physical activity on a daily basis.
- Home Environment – Where a recipient lives is also an important consideration. While a small apartment may be ideal for a cat to hang out in all day, it may not be so great for a 50 pound dog that needs to run and play outdoors. You’ll need to be realistic about the indoor and outdoor space that will be available to share with a pet.
- Commitment – Adopting a pet means providing it with a good home, proper medical care, and lots of love and attention for the rest of its life. Dogs live an average of 10-14 years, and cats can live 15-20 years – maybe more in some cases. Bringing a pet into a forever home is a long term commitment that requires a thoughtful and a realistic look at one’s life. Shelters are full of pets that didn’t “work out”; you don’t want this to be how your pet ends up.
Selecting the Right Pet
Selecting the right pet for your recipient is just as important as making sure all of the other factors line up. Since each type of pet has a different set of needs and requirements for feeding, housing, exercise, grooming, socialization, and medical care, it’s important to do your research ahead of time.
It’s usually best to allow the recipient(s) to participate in selecting their pet of choice, rather than surprising them on the big day. Giving a stuffed dog or cat with a pet toy, a leash or carrier is an exciting way to surprise someone, especially kids, and allows the entire family to pick out the pet together at a later date.
Home for the Holidays
Every year, millions of homeless animals are needlessly euthanized in shelters across the country. You can do your part to reduce this sad statistic by choosing to adopt your pet from an animal shelter. A trip to the local shelter provides a wonderful opportunity for family members to interact with potential adoptees and to participate in the final decision (and commitment) together, while providing a home for a deserving animal.
If you have your heart set on a specific breed, a breed-specific rescue organization may be a good place to search for the pet you’re hoping for. Be sure to do your homework on types and behavior, as the breeds most suitable for you will depend on your lifestyle and home environment.
Don’t forget to schedule your new pet’s first wellness examination with us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center as soon as you arrive home with your new friend. We always look forward to meeting your furry companions and helping you get off to a great start together!