Many families look to welcome new pets to their homes around the holidays. While new pets may initially seem to bring holiday cheer, it’s important to consider the level of commitment these new family members will require.

Before you make this commitment, ask this question: is your family ready for the animal that you are gifting into a “forever home” and ensure they’ll receive the love and attention they deserve?

Sadly, not all prospective owners take into account the work and time a new pet will bring. This means less emphasis has been given to preparation for the new family member and more on envisioning the joy and surprise the pet may bring.

In reality, the excitement may only last a short time as parents realize that the promises of pitching in, keeping the pet busy with fun activities, and cleaning up after accidents aren’t kept. The process of getting back to normal after the holiday season, when the new furry family member may be left home alone, can create opportunities for them to get into mischief – and even become destructive.

Welcoming a new pet into your family takes a lot of consideration and research to prepare for, regardless of the animal’s age or breed. Here are some issues to consider:

  • All breeds of cats and dogs are different, from their dietary needs and behavioral attributes to health issues. Did you know that some breeds of cats actually like to play fetch as dogs do? Some pets are more prone to cardiac issues, liver dysfunction, or disorders that require maintenance medication.
  • Is everyone in the house ‘on board’ with the decision?
  • Having a pet also requires financial considerations. Do you have the means to pay for the food? You may need to get your pets spayed or neutered, and that costs money too. What about veterinary visits every six to 12 months for vaccines, check-ups, medication?
  • Your living situation: What is it like now? Do you own, rent — will that change?
  • What is your lifestyle like? What is your life going to look like in seven or eight years?
  • Do you like to travel? Can you take a pet with you to the places that you typically like to visit? If not, who will care for your pets when you go away?

“Just as your new pet needs to be a good fit for you and your family, it’s equally as important that you and your family are a good fit for the pet,” says Larimer Humane Society Shelter Manager Brett DeWester. “It’s important to consider your lifestyle, living arrangements, and ability to give the animal all of the time and enrichment they need to live a quality life that fulfills their mental and physical needs. It can be tempting to rush into a decision to adopt that adorable critter, and oftentimes in a frenzy of excitement the best interest of the animal may go unconsidered.”

Adding a pet to your home is exciting and can bring many years of joy. But not everyone is ready for the commitment, and that’s alright! Not every situation is the right situation for an animal, and it’s up to you to decide if the timing matches.