(Family Features) The holiday season – and the lead-up to it – is a popular time to bring home a new puppy or kitten.
Consider these tips from the pet experts at PetSmart Charities to help make your new pet’s adjustment to its forever home merry and bright.
Know that pet parenting is a lifetime commitment. That oh-so-sweet puppy or kitten stage only lasts so long, so be sure that you’re prepared to give a lifetime of loving care. Nurturing the bond, you create during the early months can create a foundation for lifelong companionship.
Consider adoption first. There are literally thousands of animals of all breeds and ages looking for loving homes. Consider adopting a pet that needs a home from a local shelter or adoption event.
“When you consider an option like adoption, you can make sure one less dog or cat is spending the holiday season in a shelter while also providing the gift of unconditional love to a furry friend in need,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., president of PetSmart Charities, which helps find forever homes and families for more than 500,000 shelter pets each year. “As a way to make adoption more accessible, we work with local adoption partners to host regular adoption events at the Every Day Adoption Centers in nearly every PetSmart store nationwide.”
Select an appropriate pet. Integrating a pet into your household, especially for a first-time pet owner, can take some work. It’s important to consider factors like how often you travel, whether your work schedule will allow a visit home during the day for a potty-training puppy and if you’re willing to provide necessary care, such as daily brushing for a long-haired animal. Also consider whether you truly want a puppy or a kitten; an adult pet offers numerous benefits, such as potentially being house-trained already and more resilient for play with small kids.
Be realistic about the big reveal. Picturesque as it may be, the classic image of a puppy or kitten making a surprise leap from a box under the tree isn’t always as simple as it may appear, especially if kids are involved. Start by setting expectations with children so they don’t startle their new pet with a burst of excitement that can be scary for a small animal. Rather than putting the pet in a box, for an easier solution consider bringing the pet home before the excitement of the big day, and instead wrapping up supplies like a leash and feeding bowl to place under the tree and putting a festive collar on the new pet.
Prepare for pet parenting. The sweet kisses and cuddles are fun, but a new pet requires some preparation. Stock up on items like age-appropriate food and toys. Look into training classes and find a veterinarian you trust for regular checkups. Also take time to pet-proof your home, removing items that may pose a health threat or create temptations for undesirable behaviors.
Find more advice on introducing a new pet to your home this holiday season and locate an Every Day Adoption Center near you at petsmartcharities.org .