Puppies and kittens are just the cutest. Whether you live alone or have a family, a four-legged addition can be a tempting gift around the holidays. We have all seen this scenario play out in the happiest of ways. Perhaps the new pet fills a void that the person(s) never knew was there in the first place. While the new pet can be an adjustment, many will wonder what took them so long to add this new family member. While there are mostly happy endings with the addition of a puppy of kitten over the holidays, there are also the not-so-happy ones.
Adding a pet to your family is a decision that should be thought out with a long-term commitment kept in mind. Over the last few weeks there have been several social media posts floating around that caution against people adopting a pet for Christmas that they are not willing to keep for the long haul. Unfortunately, we have all seen numerous dogs and cats that were given as Christmas presents, only to be either re-homed or surrendered to a shelter later. With this in mind, we thought we would discuss the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Here are a few things to keep in mind if a pet is on your family’s holiday wish-list.
Things to Ponder
Puppies are adorable, but they require a lot of work, training, and attention. Kittens are precious, but also require emotional and financial dedication. When thinking about getting a pet, you need to ask yourself a few questions.Where will the dog stay while I am at work?
- How long will he/she be alone during the day? Is this a reasonable/fair amount of time for the dog?
- How will bathroom time work? Do I have a fenced-in enclosure, or will I need to take them out regularly on a leash? Is this a routine I am willing to do for the long-term?
- That beautiful sofa? Your puppy might chew on it. That kitten you’re thinking about adopting may also sink their claws into it. Your new antique farm table? Yeah, they might chew that too. These are not things that we say to completely deter you, but they are things you should think about.
- While cats typically catch on to using a litter box rather quickly, different dogs have different timelines when it comes to being completely potty-trained. Messes are going to happen in the beginning.
- Both puppies and kittens will require several visits to a veterinarian during the first six to nine months of their lives. Vaccinations, heartworm/flea prevention, and spaying/neutering are services that will be recommended during their first year of life. After that, routine check-ups, and maintaining your pet on heartworm/flea prevention are things that should be considered.
- Make a Plan: Your biggest asset when considering a family pet is to make a plan. Consider how your pet will work around your work schedule. Ask other devoted animal lovers how they make it work. While cats can often be okay if you are away for long periods of time during the day, dogs can be a little trickier. Is there a doggy day camp nearby that your dog could have fun at during the day? Is there a trusted neighborhood dog-walker that could come by periodically? Most of us have full-time jobs, so just because you work does not mean that owning a dog is out of the question. However, if you are working 50 hour+ weeks and the thought of caring intensively for something stresses you out, you may want to consider if you have the time necessary to give a dog.
- Ask Questions: There are plenty of seasoned pet owners, veterinary professionals, and dog-trainers that can help you in your quest to get your puppy potty-trained. The biggest requirement on the owner’s part is patience and persistence. If the thought of having to let or take a dog outside to use the bathroom just doesn’t appeal to you, a litter-box trained cat may be a great fit.
- Be Prepared: While I cannot promise you that nothing will get chewed on or scratched up, there are numerous toys and tools that can be used to guard against massive destruction in your home. Keeping your puppy busy with veterinary-approved chew toys and exercises can help prevent them from chewing on things that they shouldn’t. Remember that a puppy chewing on something that they shouldn’t is not just dangerous to your furniture, but also to them. Investing in a good scratching post can help deter your kitten from scratching on things that they shouldn’t.
- Analyze Your Finances: Make a financial plan for your pet. Try to include vaccinations, heartworm/flea prevention, and unforeseen accidents into the budget, if possible.
- Do Your Research: If you are interested in adopting a breed-specific pet, do your research on the breed before adopting. Many owners will adopt a breed based solely on appearances, but not understand what traits that breed possesses. Grooming, behavior, health problems, and activity levels all vary breed to breed. Some may be a great fit for your lifestyle, while others may not.
- Consider an Adult or Senior Pet: While puppies and kittens are wonderful, consider adopting an older pet. There are TONS of young adult and senior pets in shelters that are looking for loving homes. An older pet may adapt easier to your home and be more conducive to your lifestyle.
Having a furry companion will bring more joy to your life than you can imagine. If you do decide to adopt a pet this holiday season, make sure you are prepared for the responsibility ahead. Our pets depend solely on us for their well-being.