Even though seeing a puppy or kitten emerge from a big box with a bow around their neck is super cute, giving them as Christmas gifts is not advised. In fact, Los Angeles-based veterinarian Dr. Evan Antin, says that giving pets as holiday gifts is never a good idea.
Dr. Antin tells PEOPLE, “Every animal — dog, cat, bird, reptile — requires certain care and knowledge of how to care for it. If someone isn’t expecting an animal, they’re likely not going to have that necessary knowledge, either.”
Besides the restriction of free time, you need to factor in extra cash expenditures.
“You want to prepare your lifestyle for an animal, how much time you have to commit to it,” he cautions. “And you need a budget: What if this pet needs medical care or special food? It’s not something you want thrown in your lap.”
However, if you have done your homework and you’re giving the pet to someone you know has both the time and resources to invest in a pet – and they know you’re getting them a pet – then Dr. Antin asks that you adopt rather than shop.
“There are so many animals that need homes and don’t have them,” he says. “There are even a lot of exotics rescues that have the type of animals you’d see in a pet shop. So don’t make a pet shop the first place you buy.”
If there is more than one person living in the residence, then it would be best to bring them along as well, in order to make sure that your potential pet gets along with the entire household.
Once you’ve got your pet home, it is important to animal-proof it.
“It’s a lot of trial and error, but make sure your pet can’t get into food, pantries, any little toys,” he says.
For example, if you get a puppy, “lock up your leather purses, belts, and shoes,” he warns, “because puppies like to chew on expensive stuff like that.”
And finally, it wouldn’t hurt to get pet insurance, especially if you have more than one pet.
“It’s pretty expensive,” he cautions, “but if you have multiple pets, you could end up saving money in the long run.”
So, this holiday season don’t get swept up in the cuteness and remember that getting a pet for Christmas isn’t a one-off thing, it’s a 15-20 year commitment.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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