WASHINGTON — If you’re tempted to give a pet as a gift, my advice is: STOP!! Don’t do it unless you’re a parent giving it to your own child and the family has discussed it previously and planned for it.
Consider how hectic your holiday schedule will be; bringing a new pet into an unfamiliar environment filled with lots of sights and sounds and crazed relatives could be a recipe for disaster. It sometimes can be a challenge to acclimate a new pet to the household without the additional distractions. They need attention and consistency to ensure proper training and to make them comfortable and secure in their new home. If your holiday schedule will include trips to visit friends and family, attending events, participating in activities, hosting parties and guests in your home ... it’s probably a good idea to wait for a less frenzied time to introduce a pet to your household.
Pets need a lot of care, especially new pets. You need to monitor a puppy almost constantly so you notice when it needs to go outside to potty and so you can teach it to stay away from things that might harm it — toxic plants or a hot oven, for example. Holiday decorations can be dangerous to pets, as well. Mistletoe is poisonous to them. And tinsel or curling ribbon are sooo very fun to play with, but ingested can get balled up or tangled in the intestinal tract, forcing an upsetting and expensive holiday trip to the vet’s office.
As exciting as it might be to surprise someone with a fuzzy puppy or kitten, keep in mind there are related costs to owning a pet. Can you handle a vet check, vaccines, deworming, food, treats, bowls, litter pan, bed, collar, leash, toys, grooming, and whatever else the pet may need if you get one for your child? A child won’t know how to train a pet; are you willing to do it?