The kids have been begging for months.  You’re thinking about finally giving in.  After all, who can resist the image of a fuzzy new puppy or kitten under the tree?  As excited as your children may be, you may want to give it just a little more thought. Here are a few important things to consider:

  • The holiday season is typically not the best time of year to get a new pet.  New puppies and kittens require a lot of attention in order to ensure that they grow to be healthy, well socialized pets.  This is the time of year where most people have the least amount of spare time.  Housebreaking a puppy may require spending a lot of time patiently waiting outside, and in many parts of the country, January is not the most pleasant month to do so.  Also, the first year of your new pet’s life is likely to be one of the most expensive.  You should consider this when taking on this responsibility during a time of year when money is typically tight.
  • If you do decide to get a pet, do your research. Talk to a veterinarian about what kind of pet you are looking for.  They can help you decide what breeds might be a good fit for your family and which ones might not.  Discuss the costs of vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and recommended medications in order to help you to plan for your new addition.
  • Be smart about where you obtain your new family member.  Humane societies and rescues should be able to tell you a little about each animal’s personality and alert you to any medical conditions in order to ensure a good match. If you purchase your pet from a breeder, make sure to talk with a few references.  A good breeder should be knowledgeable regarding his dogs and the breed.
  • Be sure to find out the vaccination status and previous veterinary care provided to the pet.  Acquire documentation so that you may continue your pet’s care seamlessly.
  • Have a veterinarian examine the pet.  They may initially appear healthy, only to become sick soon after getting home.  The veterinarian can also counsel you as to what additional care is required and discuss issues such as housetraining and nutrition.
  • Remember, a pet is a commitment. You cannot return a pet as you might a shirt that doesn’t fit or a tie that’s not your style. Pets are with you for their whole life. If you make a commitment to them, they will reward you with love and loyalty that you’ll remember forever.