While the thought of gifting a loved one with an adorable puppy for Christmas might seem like a good idea, Los Angeles-based veterinarian Dr. Evan Antin points out that pets given as holiday presents are rarely ever a good idea.
Dr. Antin told PEOPLE, “Every animal — dog, cat, bird, reptile — requires certain care and knowledge of how to care for it. If someone isn’t expecting an animal, they’re likely not going to have that necessary knowledge, either.”
The same concern about time invested in an animal can be said about the money required to upkeep a pet.
“You want to prepare your lifestyle for an animal, how much time you have to commit to it,” Dr. Antin shared. “And you need a budget: What if this pet needs medical care or special food? It’s not something you want thrown in your lap.”
However, if you’ve done your homework and the person knows you’re gifting them a pet for Christmas, Dr. Antin maintains that it is better if you adopt, rather than shop.
“There are so many animals that need homes and don’t have them,” he said. “There are even a lot of exotics rescues that have the type of animals you’d see in a pet shop. So don’t make a pet shop the first place you buy.” It’s helpful to bring along the family members who will be living with the pet, too, to make sure your furbaby-to-be is a good personality fit.
Once your pet is home, be sure your house is animal-proofed. “It’s a lot of trial and error, but make sure your pet can’t get into food, pantries, any little toys,” he revealed.
And, if you acquire a puppy, Dr. Antin added, “lock up your leather purses, belts, and shoes because puppies like to chew on expensive stuff like that.”
And finally, if you’re adopting more than one pet, consider pet insurance.
“It’s pretty expensive,” the vet cautioned, “but if you have multiple pets, you could end up saving money in the long run.”