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Written by Karli Steenkamp 

“Purchasing a pet should never be an impulsive decision.” [Text Wrapping Break]- RSPCA 

A pet can be a great gift and a wonderful contribution to the family. It is important to know that a pet is the whole family’s responsibility. Pets need constant love, care and attention. Animals are adorable when they are little, however, as they grow older, their needs start to grow too. The animal shelters are overflowing because people get a pet impulsively and then don’t know how to care for it, or it does not fit in with the family dynamics. There are a few things to consider before getting a family pet this Christmas. 

1. Do your research

Just like humans don’t always get along with other people, so do animals. Not all types of pets will fit into your lifestyle and family. Many dogs and cats are great with kids where some breeds would better be suited to a home where children are all grown up. It is important to do proper research about the type and breed you want. Look at different aspects like: 

  • Is this type of dog child friendly? 
  • How much exercise it needs? 
  • How much it eats? (yes, this is important) 
  • What environment is best for it? 

Don’t forget to look at your local animal shelters to see what dogs are up for adoption. Animals in shelters are there for different reasons and the shelters are great at pairing the animals with their furever homes.

2. It is a commitment  

Having a pet is a full time commitment; there are no days off or breaks. The love for a pet is a beautiful thing and they often become an honorary family member. When you adopt a pet, you need to make sure that it fits in with your lifestyle. If you are an active family then an active dog will be great, but if exercise is the furthest thing from your mind, make sure you get a pet that does not require regular exercise. A pet needs check-ups at the vet and needs to be groomed regularly. When you go on holiday, most times you can’t take your pet with you; someone needs to look after your pet.


It is a huge responsibility to have a pet. Just like with kids, you will need to make sure your home is safe for the pet. Pets that are babies are going to have a few teething issues and try and eat anything they can find. You have to make sure that there is nothing poisonous or harmful lying around for the pets. You will have to get toys for the pet so that your furniture, hopefully, will be left unchewed. Depending on the type of pet, they will need to played with and walked daily. A scheduled feeding and walking time will be good. Toilet training can take a lot of effort with cats and dogs. They can train fairly quickly, but effort, consistency and praise is key. Animals also need to be up to date with their vaccinations to help them stay healthy.

4. Do you have the right accommodation? 

Lots of animals end up at the shelter because people move or they do not have permission to have an animal. Before you adopt a pet, make sure that you have permission to keep it if you are renting. If you do have permission, make sure that it is a long-term plan because you do not want to give the pet away after a year or two. [Text Wrapping Break]Most pets love to explore and it is necessary that you make sure that your house is secure and your animals can’t get out. You must have enough space for the pet. You can’t keep a large dog in a small garden; that is when all kinds of mischief can start.

5. Affordability 

Animals can be fun to have around, but they have their own needs which can be quite costly. You have to register your dog and pay an annual fee to the government. Animals need to be spayed or neutered, which can be quite expensive. They also need to be microchipped with your contact details in case they get out or lost. Annual vaccinations and check-ups help your pet stay healthy, but you also have to budget for the emergency vet visits when they get sick or hurt. Luckily there is pet insurance that you can take out for your pet, but that is another added cost. Animals need to be groomed regularly. Their food needs to be of good quality so that they can stay healthy and strong. If you do want to go away on a holiday and can’t take your pet with you, you will need to get a pet sitter or a kennel.

Animals can be a blessing in your life. Many people believe animals feed your soul and can be a lifelong companion. When you adopt a pet, it is your duty to care for it and look after its needs. Animals end up in the shelter because they are bought or adopted without thinking about the bigger picture. It should not be an impulsive decision, but a well-researched, thought out plan.

Resources: Petmd RSPCA

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