The obvious answer to this question is a resounding “I do!” After all, what better time than the holidays to surprise those you love by inviting an adorable fluffy bundle of joy into your home, delivered under the Christmas tree wearing a big red bow?
Despite the appealing imagine this conjures up, the reality may unfortunately be far different from this happy scene. So, at the risk of sounding like Scrooge, here are a few reasons why you might want to think twice before putting a new puppy or kitten under the tree.
We all love the anticipation and element of surprise when it comes to giving and receiving gifts, but this is a recipe for disaster when it comes to new pets. An unwanted book or not-so-attractive sweater can usually be quietly abandoned without too much trouble, but a new pet is a 10 to 20-year commitment. Besides the significant time and attention required to properly care for a pet, they can also cost a lot of money between food, toys, bedding, routine and emergency veterinary care, and boarding or pet-sitting. These are all things that need to be carefully considered beforehand.
The holidays tend to be a busy time for most families, and adding a new puppy or kitten to the mix often isn’t in anyone’s best interest. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas, all this commotion can be overwhelming or even scary for a new pet. The obligations of pet parenthood can also turn what should be the start of a beautiful relationship into a nightmare for the unprepared and already stressed new pet parent.
So, what are some better options? How about a putting a puppy or kitten starter kit under the tree instead? You might include toys, treats, bowls, bedding, books on caring for the pet, and even a stuffed animal stand-in. You could also consider a gift certificate for a local animal rescue, allowing the recipient to choose their own pet. The unfortunate reality is that there’s often plenty of selection at the shelter in the new year after the excitement of Christmas morning has worn off and the realities of pet parenthood have proven too much.
Delaying getting a puppy until later in the year has the added bonus of warmer weather to make house training easier. Plus once the kids are home for summer vacation, they can be more involved in feeding, walking, training, and simply bonding with the new furry family member.
While bringing a new pet into the household can be a wonderful thing, careful planning and preparation rather than impulse and surprise are the key to success. And taking a few simple precautions over the holidays can go a long way in making sure this is a safe and happy time for both you and your pets!
Dr. Amy Hayduk grew up in the Nass Valley of northwest BC and graduated from the Western College of Veterinary medicine as the 2014 “gold medalist” after completing a master’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Northern BC. She enjoys all aspects of mixed animal practice with special interests in small animal surgery and equine medicine.