What Should I Know Before I Get a Pet For My Kids This Christmas?

The days are getting shorter, and the holidays are upon us! It’s the time of year when you may be tempted to win favor with your kids by giving them a new puppy or kitten on Christmas morning. Pets can make wonderful, meaningful gifts for someone you love, especially your kids. But there are some things to consider before tying a bow around Fido or Mittens and putting them under the Christmas tree.

How do I know my child is ready for a pet?

The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is whether your child is actually ready for a pet in their lives. If you’ve owned a pet before, you know the amount of responsibility those cuddly bundles of fur come with. Pets are an excellent way to teach your child kindness and responsibility for others, but your children should be an appropriate age if you plan for them to help care for your pet.

If you find yourself questioning whether or not your child is ready to own a pet, take some time to discuss pet ownership with your kids. There are some wonderful books that have been published for kids of all ages that discuss how to treat and care for animals. Check some out at your local library or pick one up at your local bookstore to read with your children. Encourage them to ask questions at the end to gauge how they understand pet ownership.

Another way you can assess whether or not your child is ready to take care of their own pet is to think about their other responsibilities. Do they have certain chores they’re responsible for around the house every week? Do they complete their chores in a timely manner? Or do you find yourself reminding them to do what they’re supposed to on a recurring basis?

Depending on your child’s age, they may not be able to be responsible for every part of caring for a pet. But if you decide they are ready for some aspects of pet ownership, sit down and list out what they’ll be responsible for when you bring your new pet home.

What pet is best for a child?

Different pets carry a different set of responsibilities and expectations. The good news is that there isn’t one pet that’s better or worse for kids. It all depends on your child’s level of involvement in caring for your pet and what you’re looking for in a family pet.

A pet can be a fun way for your child to learn new responsibilities!

Getting a puppy or dog for Christmas

The question of whether or not your child is ready for a dog all depends on the age of your kids and the age of the dog itself. Puppies may melt our hearts with their adorable-ness, but they come with a lot more requirements than a dog that’s out of the puppy stage. Bringing a puppy home can involve sleepless nights, messes throughout the house during potty training, and even nipping at you or your kids until they’ve learned that’s not how to play well with others.

If your kids are a little older, the process of raising and training a puppy could be a wonderful learning opportunity for them. But if your kids are young and still need a lot of supervision around a pet, consider a dog that’s a little older, house-trained, and has already learned that playing rough with humans isn’t good behavior.

You’ll also want to consider the size of the dog. Depending on the age of your kids, the size of your yard and house, as well as your lifestyle, may be good indicators of if you should get a small dog or a large dog.

Getting a kitten or cat for Christmas

When it comes to a family pet, a cat can be a lot less work and responsibility than owning a dog. Even kittens often come to you already trained to use their litter box. Of course, cats also interact with their owners differently than a dog does. While they still play and have fun, cats typically are more independent and don’t rely on their owners for attention most of the time. That being said, owning a cat is much easier if you have a hectic schedule or lifestyle.

If you find yourself spending most of the day in the car driving your family from one activity to another, a cat may be an easier pet for your family. It’s often easier to find someone to care for your cat if you go out of town, and if you need to leave your cat alone for most of the day, you don’t have to worry about them needing to go outside to use the restroom.

Cats are also still a lot of fun for a family, especially if you adopt a kitten. They love to play and pounce and chase! Give your kids a wand toy and a laser pointer, and both they and the cat could be entertained for hours.

How much does it cost to own a pet?

One of the biggest questions you may have is how much it costs to own a pet. Not only do pets come with daily responsibilities, but there are some financial responsibilities grouped into owning a pet, as well. Decide how much money you’re willing to allocate for caring for your pet before deciding on the best one for your kids.

Cost of adopting or buying a pet

Not only do you have to consider the monthly costs of caring for your pet and how much vet bills will be, but it often costs money to adopt a new pet or buy one from a pet store or breeder. Do your research to see what the best option for you and your family is. 

Adopting a pet from a rescue or shelter often includes a lot of other costs like spaying or neutering. Buying a pet can be more expensive than adopting one, and still requires additional veterinary care after you bring your new pet home.

Cost of caring for a pet

After you bring your new pet home, you also have to account for the cost of your pet’s regular care. How much will their food cost each month? Do you need to purchase a crate or even fence in your yard? Do vet bills for dogs cost more than vet bills for cats? The Simple Dollar has published an exhaustive guide to the cost of owning and caring for a pet that could help you make the best decision for your family.

Have you made the decision to bring home a new pet for the holidays? The next step is to choose a family veterinarian. Register your pet with PetWellClinic for affordable, convenient, high-quality veterinary medicine!

One of the first things you should do when you decide to get a new pet is to choose a family veterinarian. At PetWellClinic, each of our locations features veterinarians who are experienced and passionate about pet health. And with our walk-in clinic model, you can bring your pet by for an exam at the time that’s most convenient for you. We also provide a straightforward menu of high-quality veterinary services at a price point that’s one of the most affordable in town.

The bond between a child and their pet is a fun and important way for them to learn empathy and kindness!

Bringing home your new pet for the holidays

Some additional questions to ask yourself before choosing a pet

  • Does anyone in your family have allergies to a certain kind of pet?
  • Does your yard need to be fenced?
  • Are there certain breeds that are better than others for a family pet?

No matter which pet you choose for your family, they can be a source of endless joy and unconditional love for your entire family. Just take the time to sit down and consider your answers to the above questions before making a final decision.

If you check all of the boxes and decide your family is ready for a new pet, it can be tempting to completely surprise your kids with your new pet. However, if your kids are going to be responsible for helping to care for the new pet, consider involving them in the process of choosing it! You can make visiting your local animal shelter a big family affair. If your children are a part of the process of choosing your new dog or cat and picking out their supplies and toys, they could feel some more ownership when it comes to scooping the litter box or helping walk the new dog.

No matter how you choose to bring a new pet into your family, this is an exciting time for everyone involved! Whether you bring home a puppy, kitten, or fully grown animal, PetWellClinic has locations and services built with your convenience in mind, even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays. This holiday season we will close early at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and we will be closed Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

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