Is a Christmas Pet a Good or Bad Idea?

Pet For Christmas

Are your kids ready for a pet for Christmas?  They may have come home after playing with their best friend’s dog and told you that they would like to have a puppy.

Or maybe your daughter has decided that a kitten is exactly what she needs to fulfill her life.

But is a pet for Christmas a good or bad idea?


When we were growing up, getting a pet for Christmas was always one of the most exciting presents around.  Yes, we got the usual lecture of being responsible for the kitten or puppy and, of course, we swore on our honor that we would take care of them.

The reality is, however, that kids go back to school and families go back to work but you still need to care for a puppy or kitten.

What Do You Do?

A kitten is easier than a puppy with respect to her toilet needs. She simply uses a litter box.

A puppy, on the other hand, will need to be taken outside every 2 hours for the first month or so to start house training and teaching him that your home is his clean den.

If you have a stay at home parent, the house training issues for a dog are easier but that parent’ schedule must still be a factor.  Not everyone stays home, so it’s a big consideration when deciding whether not to get a puppy for your child’s Christmas present.

The Statistics

Sadly, too many Christmas pets are surrendered to shelters every year.  There are a myriad of reasons but, mostly, it’s because the pet has too many needs for a busy family after the holiday vacation is over.

Fostering An Older Pet

One way to get around the issue of a young dog or cat as a present for Christmas, is to think about becoming a foster family for an older dog or cat at holiday time.  This is a great way to see if an animal will integrate well with your family lifestyle and schedule.

It also teaches your kids responsibility without having the issues of house training a puppy.

A Better Alternative?

Perhaps a better alternative for your family this year, is to talk about what kind of pet your children would like and make their Christmas present the beginning of choosing him or her.

Naturally, whatever pet you decide upon needs to be age-appropriate for your kids and also fit into your lifestyle as well.  It may be that a smaller pet like a hamster or a gerbil or even some fish would be a great start for a busy family.

So let’s answer the question: Is a pet for Christmas a good idea or bad one?  The answer is that there isn’t a concrete answer.  It really will depend on the age of your children, their schedules and the lifestyle of your family.

If you think your kids are ready for a puppy or kitten and you’re all in, then a Christmas pet is a perfect idea.

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Choosing the Best Pet for Your Kids

Pet For Your Kids

Kids and pets go together like s’mores and camping but choosing the best fit can be stressful. Here are a few things to consider ahead of time that will make your choice easier:

  • Your child’s age, abilities, and daily schedule
  • Where you live, and
  • The type of pet you’re looking for: a dog or a cat?

The Kid

When thinking about a pet, consider the age, abilities and daily schedule of your child. The younger the kid, the less ability they may have to care for a dog or cat. Ditto for a child with a busy academic and after school schedule.

For an older child, say late elementary school to middle school age, the time for a puppy or kitten may be perfect. A great way to test and see if your kid is ready for the responsibility of being a pet parent is to foster.

Being a foster family is the perfect rehearsal for bringing a dog or cat into the family full time. Both dogs and cats need foster homes and you can even be breed specific if you’d like. There are many rescue agencies looking for willing foster homes.

Where Do You Live?

The best type of pet for your family also depends on where you live. Are you in an urban high-rise with kids at school and you’re out all day? A puppy may not fit as well as a kitten due to a dog’s need to be walked. Puppies being house trained should go out every two hours until they are about three months old. After that, they can hold it for an extra hour per month of life.

If you are in the country with space for an outside kennel, a puppy would be a great choice even with a busy family because that kennel gives it the ability to be outside at will.

If you live in the city, a kitten or cat would be perfect. Cats are more self-sufficient than dogs and fit a busy family schedule with ease. Food and water, litter box, a way for the cat to see what’s going on outside and you’re set.

The Perfect Pet

There really isn’t a universally perfect pet and their needs must fit into the family like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. If you’re considering a specific breed, think about …

  • How large or small the animal will be when fully grown
  • Its need for activity, and
  • What you can afford to spend on food and medical care

Breed traits should also play into your decision as well. For example, long hair will need more grooming from your child than one with short hair. And look into the kinds of medical issues a specific breed may have. Long haired cats can tend to have more hairball issues than short haired breeds.

Choosing a pet for your child can be stress-free if you do some pre-planning. Consider your child’s age, abilities and schedule, where you live, the type of pet you’d like and you’ll be all set.

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