Should You Get a Pet for the Holiday Season?

| December 22, 2023

Welcoming a furry friend into your family is an incredibly fulfilling journey, providing happiness to both humans and animals. It marks a distinct commitment, a partnership, and the addition of a cherished family member. While the temptation of adopting a pet during the holiday season is undeniable, it’s important to navigate this decision with thoughtful considerations. 

Is a Pet the Perfect Present?

Pets are lifelong companions, demanding time, attention, and resources, regardless of their species. Although adopting a pet during the holidays can be a love-filled experience, we strongly encourage involving the entire family in the decision-making process. The responsibilities associated with pet adoption, including financial commitments and lifelong care such as pet insurance, enrichment, training, veterinary checkups, and more should be planned out and thought through. Surprising a family member with a new pet may not be the best decision, as not everyone is prepared for this big commitment. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends the giving of pets as gifts only to people who have expressed a sustained interest in owning one, and the ability to care for it responsibly. 

The True Cost

Unlike most holiday gifts, pets are lifetime commitments that come with ongoing expenses. Beyond the initial adoption, they require consistent investment in food, toys, training, and healthcare throughout their lives. According to the Ontario Medical Veterinary Associate (OMVA), the cost of care for a puppy is around $5,000 annually, a dog is $4,000, a kitten is $3,000 and a cat is $2,500. The financial commitment associated with pets extends well beyond the one-time adoption fee. 

Lifestyle Adjustments

Adopting a pet may require adapting to the pet’s unique needs, potentially leading to lifestyle changes. For instance, a dog’s need for morning walks may alter a routine of leisurely mornings sipping a cup of coffee. A shy cat might not be comfortable in a home with large and frequent gatherings. Understanding a rabbit’s sensitivity to handling and being picked up, particularly for families with children could be difficult to navigate. Some individuals may not be suited to make adjustments for the new family member, which will make the transition period a lot more stressful for the pet.  

When Should You Adopt a Pet?

In no particular order, here are a couple questions to ask yourself before deciding to adopt a pet: 

  • Will there be a change of residence in the next few months? 
  • Have you researched the annual costs associated with caring for the chosen pet? 
  • Do you know the behavioural needs of the pet? 
  • Will you lose interest after the first month or when things are difficult? 
  • Are you willing to make sacrifices in personal time, schedule, and finances for the benefit of your new pet? 
  • Is your living space suitable for the adopted animal? 
  • Has your entire family unanimously agreed on this decision? 
  • Would the presence of this new pet affect or harm another pet currently living in your home? 

For some, the holiday season is a perfect time to invite a new family member into their home. But this decision should resonate with the entire family. Only when every aspect, including cost, lifestyle adjustments, learning, and adaptation, has been thoroughly considered and planned for, can you confidently begin the journey of making a new, furry friend for life. When you are ready, the overwhelming feeling of welcoming a pet into your home and heart will be like nothing else you’ve ever experienced, and Toronto Humane Society will be delighted to be a part of this wonderful life-changing experience.  

If you are ready to adopt, click to view dogs, cats, and special species available for adoption.