Whether it's a dog, cat, hamster, bird or other critter, a new pet is always an exciting addition, especially around the holidays when many families choose to bring a new pet into their home.
However, December is often a busy month when people do not have the time or energy to focus on a new pet. Before making this big decision, ask yourself some simple questions.
How much time each day can be committed to the pet? Work schedules, school schedules and other factors greatly affect how long people are home during the day. Some pets require more personal attention than others. For instance, larger, more energetic dog breeds, such as Boxers, will need to be walked at least two times a day.
For those who can't make that time commitment, small dogs or cats may require less exercise time, but still need quite a bit of one on one attention and toys to keep them mentally stimulated if the pet parent is gone during the day. Small animals like hamsters, guinea pigs and reptiles may be better suited for those who plan on being gone all day long.
Typically, these pets will be safe in their habitat during the day, provided the pet parent gives them all the requirements necessary to keep them happy and healthy. However, it is still important to nurture a connection with these pets, as many of them love to be held and handled. For those considering a puppy, it's important to consider the time commitment to properly potty train the dog.
What is affordable? Some pets cost more than others. In addition to upfront adoption fees, there are a number of factors that determine the cost of a pet. Large dogs will need more food, certain breeds require professional grooming services more often, young dogs and cats may require special training courses and reptiles can require specialized habitats and heat lamps.
Before deciding on a pet, be sure to research all costs associated with that pet, including costs that could come later in the animals life, rather than just immediately. For example, pet parents may not know that it is important to invest in their pet's oral health, which can help avoid costly dental surgeries down the line.
What does the family want to get out of the pet? Being a pet parent is a benefit to both the human and the animal and many pet parents say that their animal does more for them than they ever expected. It's important to ask what the family wants to get by adding a new pet to the family.
Perhaps it's having a cuddle buddy; maybe it's teaching kids responsibility, it could be the thought of having a pet help encourage someone to get physically fit, or perhaps it's having an independent animal who can cheer others up. Whatever it is, consider this feedback before getting a new pet. For those who decide a new puppy is best for their wants and needs, make sure the dog is well socialized before taking them out and about.
Sometimes waiting until after the holidays to add a new pet to the house may be the best option. Getting kids a habitat to unwrap during the celebrations and letting them choose their own pet after the holidays can turn one special day into two.