Pets as holiday gifts

Pets as Holiday Gifts

As the holidays approach, many children put animals on their Christmas wish lists – dogs, cats, hamsters, reptiles –and a lot of parents, envisioning the joy on their children’s faces when they spot that new puppy festooned with a bright red bow, will step into a pet shop with the best of intentions. The idea is certainly a sweet one. Having a pet can also improve your family’s health. But before you walk into that pet store or contact that breeder, please remember: taking care of a dog is a lot like a baby – minus the diaper.

Did you know that about half of the animals that are given as gifts over Christmas are returned? Shelters are often inundated with unwanted dogs and cats once all the Christmas excitement has worn off and the reality of overactive puppies, house training mistakes, and chewed up furniture sets in. A new pet is a lot of work, not to mention a long-term expense. Are you ready for the challenge?

A dog or cat can be a faithful companion and a best friend, but the craziness of the holiday season isn’t always the best time to bring a new pet into the household. Will there be time to housebreak a new puppy while you worry about keeping Uncle Billy fed and entertained? Will you be able to make sure that brand-new kitten doesn’t climb the Christmas tree and break the pretty, fragile ornaments your dear grandmother handed down to you? Will you have the patience to deal with stepping into the squishy wet hairball your new kitty left in the middle of the hallway when you get up for a drink in the middle of the night?

It’s exciting to think about bringing a new pet into your lives, but consider carefully before you do! Do you have both the time and financial resources? How much do you work? How often do you travel? It’s best to bring a new pet into the home when you have or can take time off work or school to help that pet acclimate to its new surroundings. Buying an animal means a years-long commitment—and a living creature isn’t as simple to return as a Barbie doll or a remote-controlled car. Perhaps a better way, as mentioned in the PetFinder article linked below, is to have a stuffed cat or dog “stand in” for the real thing and go choose a pet together as a family once the chaos of the holiday season dies down. This keeps the element of surprise, but avoids stressing the animal unnecessarily and allows everyone in your family to have a say when selecting your new fur baby.

If you’re seriously considering bringing a new pet into your family, here are some resources to help you out.

Petfinder: Pets as Presents: A Good Idea?

ASPCA: Pets as Gifts? Yes, You Can!

The Shelter Project

Dogtime: Dog Breed Selector

The Humane Society: Choosing the Right Cat for You

The Humane Society: Top Reasons to Adopt a Pet

PAWS Chicago: A Guide for Bringing Home a New Dog or Cat

Happy holidays from all of us at DCA Virtual Business Support!