The holiday giving season is quickly approaching, and in addition to socks and a new toaster, some may be considering a pet as a holiday gift.  While a furry ball of wonderful is always an excitement on the “big day,” there are some important things to consider ahead of time.

Make sure that you have prepared for the arrival of a new pet.  Food, bowls, litter and litter pans, beds, toys, blankets, leashes, collars, and crates are the essentials to have ready.  Have a game plan in place for feeding, training, and cleaning schedules.  Assign duties and make sure they fit into your schedule.

Also, think about safety. How will your new pet adapt to your home?  Will existing pets accept the new pet?   Go slow with introductions, and be careful.  When bringing home a new puppy or kitten, separate them from existing pets for 2 weeks to make sure they are healthy before there is any interaction with existing pets and make sure everyone is up to date on their vaccines.   Have baby gates or separate rooms prepared ahead of time.   Puppies and kittens get into everything, so make sure your home is clean, and dangers are removed – pretend you are receiving a toddler.  

Consider expenses.  New pets will need veterinary exams, vaccinations, spays/neuters, and deworming minimally.  Depending upon lifestyle, additional vaccinations, microchipping, and flea/tick and heartworm preventatives may also be needed.  Remember that puppies and kittens and even adult animals get themselves into trouble.  Additional unforeseen expenses, such as surgery for intestinal blockages, trauma, and contagious infections, happen regularly.  Pet insurance is available; know this and take advantage! 

Some odds and ends.  Save a life and adopt a pet when possible.  Make sure the gift fits. Young, rambunctious puppies and kittens may not be the best gift for an elder.  Choose an adult, or better yet, adopt a senior for a senior!  If you buy a new pet, make sure the breeder is reputable.  Don’t support the exploitation of dogs and cats from breeding mills.  Consider your work hours and how you will care for your new charge.  Will you be traveling, and if so, how will your pet be cared for?  Not all pets travel well.   Will you be moving soon? If so, wait until you are settled to get a new pet.

These pets are in your home, and you are their protector, advocate, and guardian for their lifetime.  I hope that this article helps make sure that you are ready for this sometimes challenging and always beautiful commitment. 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Kanab Veterinary Hospital!

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