Paws before gifting a pet this holiday season

Thinking of gifting a pet or getting a new pet this holiday season?

While there are plenty of pets who need a good home, make sure the recipient of the pet is ready for the demands and responsibilities of caring for a critter companion.

Here are five important tips to consider before surprising someone with the gift of a pet:

1. Make sure the recipient wants a pet and is financially prepared

Pets require a considerable investment of both time and money.  Not everyone is able to care for a pet, so be sure the recipient is willing to care for one financially and mentally.

2. Don’t buy a pet on an impulse

It’s easy to fall in love with an adorable pet and want to bring them home on the spot, but bringing a pet into your family is a years-long commitment. If you’re ready to buy a pet, do your research and find a responsible breeder, shelter, or a rescue group.

3. Consider adopting an older pet or fostering a pet

Pet rescue groups are always looking for responsible people to provide foster pet homes on a short-term or long-term basis until they can find them a “forever home.” If you’re thinking of giving a pet as a gift to a child, consider other options: turtles, hamsters, iguanas, rabbits, and guinea pigs are all excellent, easy, and economical choices that can teach kids how to care for pets responsibly.

4.  Create a danger-free home for pets

Make sure all household chemicals, human medicines, poisonous houseplants, and breakables are out of reach. Many holiday decorations and certain foods, such as chocolate and raisins, pose dangers to a pet’s health.  Establish a safe zone in the house where the new pet can peacefully relax and sleep.

5. Choose a local veterinarian

Choosing a veterinarian is the first step in ensuring a pet’s well-being. Puppies and kittens need a series of vaccinations, so make sure you get any records containing the pet’s history — this will help a veterinarian determine exactly which vaccinations are needed.

Regardless of where you acquire your new pet, or what the seller says, always take it to see your personal veterinarian within the first week of bringing your pet home.