What could be more wonderful than a cuddly puppy or kitten waiting under the tree on Christmas morning?  While this can bring a lot of joy to the entire family during the holidays, it is important to keep in mind that this is a commitment of time, money and love for up to 20 years!  Before you decide to buy an animal for someone, consider the following questions:  Am I sure the recipient really wants a pet?  If this is for my child, who will care for the pet when they go off to college?  If this is for my young child, am I sure I want to feed, walk and clean up after the animal myself?  Is the new owner financially prepared to care for this animal (most puppies and kittens will cost at least $500 to feed, vaccinate etc. and sometimes thousands of dollars in just the first year!)? How will we prevent a new puppy from eating our socks or a new kitten from scratching on the couch?  What if this pet has a behavior problem?  Would it be smarter to give a gift certificate for a pet as the gift?

If you are sure you want to get a puppy or kitten as a present, be sure to involve your veterinarian.  Every youngster should have a physical exam ASAP and should be screened for infectious diseases, including some that may be communicable to your family.  Vaccines and parasite control should be started right away.  You should also get an overview of complete puppy or kitten care on your first veterinary visit.  At ACC we think pets are about the best gift there is for the right person.  We are all here to help you make life with your pets a joy.

by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP