holiday-treatsA pet can make a household feel a lot more like a home.  There is nothing like coming home to a wagging tail or a loving purr.  They make us laugh everyday and are even known to reduce stress, but adopting a pet is a major responsibility.  Many families feel that the Holiday’s are a great time to adopt, and while they are right that these animals need a home for the Holiday’s too, it’s important to be prepared.  We spoke with the caring folks at the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society and the Morris Animal Refuge to get their tips on adopting during the Holidays!

1. Do Your Research

This seems a little obvious but many people don’t truly take things like the space they live in, their lifestyle, or their availability to care for a pet into consideration.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you or your family can’t adopt a pet but maybe an active dog breed that needs a lot of attention won’t work as well for you as a less active dog breed or even a cat.

The Solution: Google!  Research the breed of animal that you are wanting to adopt.  There are so many great resources online to help you really understand your pet of choice.  You can also reach out to PAWS or the Morris Animal Refuge.  The people who work there have a wealth of knowledge and can help you decide on the pet that will be most happy in your home!

dogholidays2. Set your Expectations

A lot of families decide that the Holidays are a great time to finally get that pet the kids have been wanting but it is important for parents to have realistic expectations when it comes to who will be responsible for the care of your new furry friend.

The Solution: Wendy from the Morris Animal Refuge encourages parents to know that if their children are under 12 years old then chances are good that the bulk of the care of a pet will land on the parents shoulders.  It is a great way to teach a child responsibility but kids that young most likely won’t be able to totally care for the pet on their own.

3. Prepare for Allergies

A lot of kids love pets but a lot of kids also tend to have allergies.  If you are considering surprising your littles with a new family member this year PAWS reminds you to make sure that everyone in your household can handle having a little extra dander hanging around.

The Solution:  The folks at PAWS encourage you to bring the kids in to meet the pet at the shelter.  You don’t have to spoil the surprise as they are happy to go along with the “we’re just visiting” mantra.  This way the animal and humans can interact to see if their personalities jive and you will see how your child reacts to being in the room with all the pet dander.  The bonus is that you can surprise your family with a pet they already fell in love with at the shelter and you don’t have to risk needing to find the pet a new home if allergies are indeed a problem.

kitten-holidays4. Beware the Decor and Toxins

During the Holidays homes tend to be flipped upside down, even more than usual! Between expensive or sentimental decorations, cords upon cords of lights, and various Holiday plants there are a lot of things for a new furry family member to get into.  New pets, especially young ones, tend to be pretty curious and this could wreak havoc on your Holiday decor.

The Solution: If you are planning to bring home a pet while decorations are out be very careful.  Put things up high, especially plants like Poinsettias which are poisonous to animals, be aware of any gifts that may contain yummy treats like chocolate, which can be deadly for dogs if ingested.  All in all it’s important to keep a close eye on your pet to ensure their safety and the safety of your stuff!

 5. Take Time for the Meet and Greet

The Holidays often mean gatherings of friends and family who will be surely wanting to meet the new addition!  Keep in mind that this can be difficult for new pets.  After all they have just spend some amount of time in the shelter and while they are most likely thrilled to have a home it can be overwhelming.

The Solution: It is always recommended that the new pet have 1-2 weeks of alone time with the immediate family so that they can get accustomed to the house and family lifestyle.  If a gathering is planned during this time that’s ok but be prepared with a room in the house set aside for the animal with food, water, a blanket, a favorite toy, and maybe even a bed.  Give them a place where they can be comfortable and by themselves.  If people want to meet them, make sure it is in small groups and that you monitor the pet’s comfort.