5 Things to Consider Before Adopting a Pet This Holiday Season

5-things-to-consider-before-adoptingThe holiday season is a time of love, family and joy, and few things personify that like the affection you get from a pet. Dogs and cats are humans’ best friends and many people see the holidays as a time to bring a cute and cuddly family member into their lives. Who wouldn’t want to wake up Christmas morning to puppy kisses

Despite the fact that puppies and kitties would be the most adorable gift ever (and most rewarding in the long run), don’t make an impulsive decision to adopt. If you’re starting to feel drawn to the idea of adopting a dog or a cat, you should analyze your reasons before deciding. Here are five important things to consider prior to adopting a cat or dog:

1. Why Do You Want a Pet?

Think about why you’d like to get an animal this holiday season. Your motives may be able to predict how well the arrangement would turn out.

If you want a dog or cat because they are cute or your friend just got one, you should wait. You also shouldn’t give in just because your kids have been asking incessantly. “Please mom and dad, please,” can wear you down—but stay strong!

However, if you’ve been considering a pet for a while and now is a good time, you might be ready for the responsibility of owning a dog or cat. Of course, wanting a pet forever doesn’t necessarily mean you’re up for the challenge.

2. How are Your Finances?

Pets aren’t free or even cheap—they need food, visits to the vet, medicine (sometimes), training and other items (a bed, lease, litter box, treats, and toys). While cats may cost a little less than dogs, either can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars annually to several thousand.

Paying for medical emergencies, ticks, or surgeries (spay and neuter) could put total pet expenses on the high end, so it’s important to prepare for exorbitant spending, even if Fluffy never gets sick.

With all that in mind, plan a budget that includes pet costs. If you can balance your income with pet expenses and your own spending, you can probably afford it. However, if you’d be scrounging and scraping for cash, you should save first. You don’t want to deprive your animal of its necessities.

3. What’s Your Apartment Situation Like?

Does your landlord allow dogs and cats in the building? The answer is a critical component to whether or not you can adopt an animal. If you go behind the landlord’s back to bring a pet in to the apartment, you could stir up some trouble for yourself—from losing your security deposit to eviction. You’re best off waiting until you move into a pet-friendly apartment to adopt your new friend.

4. How Often are You Home?

Yes, pets cost money, but they also require time. Dogs and cats like when their owner is around and become lonely without the presence of a person. You also need to feed your pets and give them exercise. If you’re rarely home, it may not be the correct time to adopt a pet. However, you can work fulltime and have a furry friend—hiring a dog walker is always an option.

5. Ready for the Rough Stuff?

Cats claw at furniture sometimes and dogs might have an accident—it’s just part of owning a new furry friend. Before you bring your animal home, you should be ready to handle these issues. Fortunately, you don’t have to educate your pet on your own. Seek a training program at your local shelter or pet store. These guided experiences teach both you and your animal!

Niccole Schreck is a rental experience expert for Rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable pet-friendly apartment and provides tips on how to move with your pet. She is also the proud owner of two dogs, Bella and Wallace.