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Here’s when you should (and shouldn’t) gift an animal for Christmas

Some of the most heartwarming viral moments in recent years are of pets being welcomed to a new family on Christmas. The beaming parents carry a tiny puppy into the living room, where the rest of the family waits in suspense around a decorated tree. Siblings hug, and even Dad sheds a tear as everyone has their first moment with their Christmas miracle.

While the joy on a child’s face as they hold their new best friend is unlike any other, there is so much more to each adorable story than we see on Facebook. Even surprising a significant other with an animal can entail so much more than the romantic Instagram pictures everyone gets to see. Pets of any species are a huge responsibility that not everyone is ready for — you’re taking care of a living being, after all.

When you shouldn’t

As much as kids love animals, that alone is not a good enough reason to get them a pet. Taking care of an animal is a responsibility they just may not be able to meet — which isn’t their fault! Take a look at how they take care of their toys, and you might have a preview of how they would interact with a pet. Still seem like a good idea? Instead, an interactive toy can be a great place to start teaching your children about responsibility and caring for an animal. Then, when the time comes, they’ll be paw-sitively purr-fect pet parents already!

When everyone in your household works long hours, it can be so comforting to come home to a loving pet. They’ll be so excited to see you return, but it’s hard to forget that they’re also waiting all day every day for this one moment. A lot of pets don’t need a ton of attention from their owners, but others can experience severe separation anxiety. It’s never a good idea to put a pet into this situation if you’re not sure you can provide all the attention she needs.

This doesn’t mean you can never leave the house! If you decide pet parenthood is right for you, you can set up a high-tech pet camera like the Furbo, which lets you check in on your pet, talk to her, and even toss her a treat, all from your mobile phone. Furbo will send you notifications for medical alerts such as choking or vomiting, and it will conserve storage and energy by saving video clips only when motion is detected. A must-have for new pet parents!

When you should

When you already have a pet who is well taken care of but could use some company, the folks in your home have already proven that they can handle the responsibility of caring for an animal. Pets like dogs are pack animals, and as the people at Purina are ready to remind us, having multiple dogs in the home will give them a chance to play and exercise more, which benefits their physical and mental health. Make sure to have a water bowl handy for your pets after playtime is over! Frisco’s Square Pet Fountain is just one of many pet fountains on Chewy.com that will help keep water fresh and flowing, so you won’t have to refill as often.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to work from home are also in a great situation to bring someone new into the family — most of us who work from home, anyway. Being home allows us to give a new pet more time and attention, whether that time goes toward playing, grooming, or scooping poop. Even just our presence can be a comfort to an animal, but a toy that encourages them to play without getting in the way of your work is even better.

Every family is different, and every pet is, too. Whether or not this ends up being the right time, give it a lot of thought! Bringing an animal into your life requires a great deal of work, but it can also bring a lot of love your way.

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Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
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