It’s that time of year, and kids everywhere are completing their holiday wish lists, hoping Santa missed all those naughty moments and will deliver the newest technology or even a puppy or kitten on Christmas morning. But, whether your little one was naughty or nice, there are some important considerations to make before allowing Santa to put a new pet under the tree:

  1. Lifestyle — Are you a family of hikers or loungers? Do you live in a condo with no outdoor space or a house with a fenced backyard? Before adding a pet to the family, you must consider your family’s lifestyle and the needs of the pet. An energetic dog will need frequent exercise, a high jumper will need a fence high enough to keep him in the yard, and a lap dog will want a homebody who enjoys cuddling.
  2. Money — Just because Santa is delivering a “free” pet on Christmas morning, doesn’t mean that companion won’t cost you in the future. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $69.51 billion on their pets in 2017. Expenditures included food, supplies, over-the-counter medications, veterinary care, grooming, boarding, and more.
  3. Time — Will your new pet be left alone for 8+ hours every day? Will you or someone in your family have time to walk a new dog or play with a new cat? What about cleaning up your dog’s business in the backyard or cleaning out the kitty litter regularly? And, consider the time required to properly train a new pet. If your family neglects to teach your new companion right from wrong, you’ll all regret it later. Pets require a significant time commitment, and your child should understand all that’s involved before asking Santa for a puppy.
  4. Commitment — When you purchase or adopt a new pet, it’s a lifelong commitment. Many children beg and plead for a new pet, only to eventually tire of the companion and leave all the pet duties to Mom or Dad. If your child really wants a pet, she’ll still be asking in April, long after the holiday décor has been packed away and Santa is back at the North Pole.

A pet should never be a surprise. Adequate research, planning, and preparation are necessary to ensure a good fit for everyone.

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