Cats Dogs

Should I get a pet for Christmas?

Allie Simpson

It’s understandable to want to find your loved one a special gift during the festive season. But is getting a dog or cat for Christmas really a good idea? If you’re pondering ‘should I get a pet for Christmas’, here’s some of things you might want to mull over before you commit.

 

A picture of a long haired grey cat with green eyes staring into the camera

Are you ready for the responsibility of being a pet owner?

Let’s start with the big one – responsibility. It might be a cliche, but it’s true when they say a pet isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life. Once you’re past the excitement of Christmas, you’ve got the very real responsibility of caring for an animal for the rest of their lives.

 

> Doing the research to find the right pet

Your new pet will become another family member, so you’ll want to make sure they’re the right fit for your lifestyle. This means doing research around the breed, such as:

  • If you need a hypoallergenic cat or dog
  • How long they live for
  • What size they could reach when fully grown
  • What genetic illnesses they could inherit
  • How much exercise they need
  • What temperament they have
  • How much grooming is involved
  • Whether to choose a male or female
  • If you’d like to buy or rescue a pet

This is just a small part of what goes into finding a pet for your family.

Check out our handy guide if you want to know more about choosing the right dog for you.

 

If you’re in search of a puppy, you’ll need to look for a registered breeder (such as those listed with The Kennel Club) to comply with UK dog laws. These breeders often have long waiting lists, which means you may not be able to get a puppy or kitten a few weeks before Christmas.

Not going to a registered breeder could put you at risk of getting ‘petfished’. This is a problem where deceitful pet sellers trick potential new owners into thinking the animal is from a happy home. In fact, these kinds of sellers are breeding in poor conditions and mistreat the animals. The government set up a dedicated campaign called ‘Get Your Pets Safely’ if you want to learn more.

When it comes to rescue pets, remember to speak with a registered pet charity or shelter. Some charities may even ban adoptions until after Christmas, to help avoid any impulse decisions that may see the animal returned in the new year.

 

> Affording the costs of owning a cat or dog

If you’re researching average prices for breeds, keep in mind that demand for puppies and kittens has increased over the pandemic, which has led to a rise in cost. But it’s not just the price of the animal itself, it’s also paying out for:

  • Nutritional, good quality food
  • Ongoing flea and worming treatments
  • Vaccinations and regular boosters
  • Toys and enrichment activities
  • Boarding/pet sitting (if you go away)
  • Pet insurance
  • Treatment and medication

The pandemic has also led to increased pressure on vet clinics and reduced capacity. Before thinking about getting a pet for Christmas, you’ll want to check there’s space for your pet to register with a local clinic.

 

A picture of a grey tabby kitten chewing a cat teaser

Remember – puppies and kittens grow up after Christmas

It may seem obvious, but that puppy and kitten won’t be that small forever. Yes, they may have an adorable cuteness to create an ‘aww’ factor at Christmas, but they’ll grow up. They’ll take up more space, need more exercise, and eat more food than they did as puppies or kittens.

PETA has called out the issue of many Christmas pets being brought into shelters after the festive season ends. People realise they’re not actually in a position to commit to having a pet for up to 20 years.

 

A picture of a toy dog with a stethoscope

Giving a pet to a child at Christmas

Many kids dream of having a dog or cat best friend, and may be asking Santa to make their wish come true. If you’ve thought about gifting your child a pet for Christmas, ask yourself, will they take on their day to day care? Are they old enough to do this?

If not, are you ready to take this responsibility on yourself? You’ll still be covering all the costs, but will your child help out or be fully in charge of feeding, exercising, and playing with their pet? If the answer is no, perhaps a toy or electronic pet might be a more suitable alternative to a real one.

 

A picture of a Terrier wearing a jumper playing tug of war with a Santa hat

Bringing a pet into the chaos of Christmas time

Christmas is an exciting but chaotic time, and this may not be the ideal environment to bring in a new pet. We’re talking:

  • Kids playing with noisy toys
  • People socialising with loud talking and laughing
  • Visitors coming and going
  • Bright lights and other unusual sounds
  • Foods and items which could be dangerous/toxic to pets

 

A picture of an adult Maine Coon cat lying in front of a Christmas tree

Sponsoring a pet in need

If you’re an animal lover but can’t commit to the long term responsibility of owning a pet, why not consider sponsoring a pet instead? Charities such as Blue Cross give you the option of paying a monthly donation to support their teams with caring for pets in need.

Even a small amount can make the biggest difference. Some pet charities may post out a welcome pack, give access to their exclusive social media group, and send updates on the animals you’re helping. There’s plenty of organisations you can support, including charities such as RSPCA, Guide Dogs, Cats Protection, and more.

You could make a one-off or ongoing donation on behalf of a loved one, and make that part of their Christmas gift.

 

When you’re finally ready to become a pet owner, don’t forget to keep your new family member healthy and happy with a lifetime pet insurance policy from Petsure.