Cute kitten in Christmas basketA fuzzy puppy or kitten wrapped up under the Christmas tree may sound like a picturesque moment, but in reality, it’s not always the best idea.

There are many factors to take into account when considering pets as gifts. Here’s what to know…

DO your research. Talk to a veterinarian about what kind of pet you are looking for. He or she can help you decide what breeds may be a good fit for your family and which ones might not.

DON’T forget to take into account the costs of vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and recommended medications in order to help you to plan for your new addition. Lay out a budget for these expenses as well as others such as food, bowls, collar, leash, training, etc. The first year of a pet’s life is one of the most expensive.

DO remember that new puppies and kittens require a lot of attention in order to ensure that they grow to be healthy, well socialized pets. The holiday season may not allow you to devote the amount of time required to properly care for a new pet.

DON’T forget that puppies need to be housebroken. This may require spending a lot of time patiently waiting outside, no matter the weather.

DO have a veterinarian examine your new pet as soon as possible. Even though it may initially appear healthy, there may be underlying health issues that need to be addressed.

DON’T ever give someone a pet as a gift without extensively discussing it with them first. Taking on a new pet is a big decision and a lot of responsibility, not to mention they type of pet you have in mind, might not be best for the giftee’s lifestyle.

So whether a new pet fits into your holiday plans or not, be certain to take some time and carefully consider the decision. Adopting an animal is a lifetime commitment. Be sure that it is one you can keep.