There’s nothing quite like giving or receiving a cute kitten or puppy for Christmas (or any holiday for that matter)! Pets are fun companions that can add immeasurable joy and fulfillment to your family’s life. Pets can also teach children how to care for another living being, help your family get more exercise, and even help reduce illness.
But for all their positives, new pets are also a long-term commitment—10 or even 20 years in some cases—and should not be gifted without fully accounting for the costs and responsibilities of pet ownership. Our cats and dogs need annual wellness checks, high-quality, nutritionally dense food, and lots of time, love, and attention. You should not be afraid of this commitment, but you should be prepared. Here are some helpful thoughts and tips to make sure you and the person you’re giving a pet to this holiday season are prepared.
How to Properly Prepare for a Christmas Pet
Prepare for the Responsibility
All pet’s require love, care, time, and attention, and the first step in planning for a new pet is to ensure you are personally able and willing to make the commitment to own a pet. If you travel a lot, are rarely home, or have some other circumstances that prevent you from committing the necessary time and attention to caring for a pet, then it may not be the right time for you to get a pet. Or it may require you to invest in Doggie Daycare or additional pet services to help you meet your responsibilities.
Prepare for Your Situation
Do you live in an apartment? Do you require a more docile pet? What is your work schedule? Should you get one pet or two? Do I or my family have pet allergies? Should I get a long- or short-haired pet? Answering these question will help guide you to the particular type of pet that is ideal for your situation and help you avoid future problems. If you’re uncertain at any point about your situation, be sure to consult one of our veterinarians about the best breeds for your circumstances.
Prepare Your Home
Pets live side-by-side with us in our homes and on our property, and it’s important to make sure that your home is both safe and pet-friendly. For example, here are some things you will want to consider:
For the outdoors
- Check all fences and gates to ensure they are secure and will prevent your pet from escaping or getting into a dangerous situation.
- Clean up your yard, removing any potentially dangerous materials or plants.
- Purchase a pet house or create a safe space for your pet to retreat to in the event of bad or cold weather, other animals coming onto your property, etc.
- Talk to your veterinarian about flea and tick medication for your pet and take any preventative lawn care steps to reduce the effect of fleas and ticks. Don’t forget heartworm preventative medication for your new dog!
- Get all necessary annual vaccinations and shots for your pet.
For the indoors
- Pet-proof your home by removing any dangerous items or situations (loose wires, sharp objects, toxic plants, etc.).
- Close off any areas that are off-limits to pets.
- Determine where your pet will eat and go the bathroom, making sure that these are two separate spaces.
- Provide your pets with toys and play spaces to ensure they use these areas versus your countertops, couches, or any other area that you prefer they not use.
- If you have other pets, have a plan for safely introducing them to each other.
Prepare with the Right Items
You will need a number of items for your pet before you even bring it home (and definitely before you give a pet as a gift). The last thing you want to do is give someone a pet on Christmas, but not give them the necessary tools they need to care for the pet. Many stores are not open on Christmas Day—so be sure you’re prepared beforehand.
Here are a few items that you should consider purchasing before you get a pet:
- Pet crate
- Food and water bowls
- Grooming tools