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dog for christmas

Should you get your family a pet for Christmas?

We’ve all heard the phrase “a dog is for life not just for Christmas”. And this is so very true. Getting a pet is a big decision that has to be thought through very carefully. A pet – particularly a dog or a cat – is a major commitment in terms of time, effort, and of course money. 

But does that mean that you should never get a pet for Christmas? If you have decided that you definitely want one, why not make it part of your family Christmas celebrations?

In many ways, Christmas is the worst time to introduce a new pet into the home as it tends to be a busy and noisy time, when there’s lots of coming and going and everyone is out of their routine. It could be a scary and intimidating time for a new pet to join the family. 

So if you are thinking about getting a pet, a better option could be to break the good news on Christmas Day, but arrange everything to actually bring your new pet home a few days after Christmas. This would allow a bit of time for everything to calm down and get a little more back to normal.

But if you are currently undecided about whether to get a pet at all, there are various factors that you need to consider to ensure you are going to make the best decision for your family and for the pet that may be joining you. 

To help you decide, let’s take a look at:

  • The responsibilities of owning a pet.
  • The expenses of owning a pet.

 

We will major on dogs and cats, as these are the most popular pets and also the pets that need the most commitment.

 

The responsibilities of owning a pet

Owning a pet is a huge responsibility and is yours 24/7. Here are five particular responsibilities you need to be aware of:

 

  • The daily welfare of your pet

Under The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 you have legal responsibilities for the welfare of your pet. This includes providing your pet with a safe and suitable place to live, a healthy diet and fresh water. 

You also need to give your pet the opportunity to express normal animal behaviour, which includes regular exercise and company. In particular, dogs cannot be left unattended for long periods of time, so if there is no-one home during the day you would need to arrange for a friend, neighbour or dog sitter to visit.

In addition, you become responsible for protecting your pet from illness, pain and suffering. As well as taking it to the vet when something is wrong, this also includes regular vet check ups, annual vaccinations and ongoing flea/worm treatments.

 

  • Identification of your pet

Dogs and cats must all now legally be microchipped. Dogs must be microchipped by the time they are 8 weeks old and cats by 20 weeks. Microchipping enables your pet to be identified if they are found, and linked to your contact details in a pet microchipping database.

Additionally, dogs must wear collars with identity tags when out in public. The identity tag on the collar should include your name, address, and a telephone number so that you can be contacted immediately if your dog is found.

 

  • Enabling your pet to travel safely

If your dog or cat is travelling in the car with you, Rule 57 of the Highway Code requires them to be “ suitably restrained”. This is to prevent you from being distracted, and also to protect them if you have to stop quickly. 

So you need to use either a seat belt harness, pet carrier, cage or dog guard if your pet is in the car with you.

 

  • Leads and muzzles for dogs

Dogs vary enormously in how good their recall is. If your dog is trained to come back to you when called, then it’s fine to walk it off lead in a public open space. But if your dog won’t come back to you then you need to keep it on the lead. 

Your dog also needs to be on lead if there have been problems with it chasing or jumping at people, or fighting other dogs. 

If your dog turns out to be naturally aggressive, vocal or hard to control you may also want to consider a muzzle as well as keeping it on the lead. This will make your dog less intimidating to other people and dogs. 

 

  • Poo bags

Another legal obligation when walking your dog in public spaces such as parks, playgrounds, pavements and footpaths is to clear up any dog mess. Not the nicest job in the world but it’s part of your responsibility as a dog owner.

Always make sure that you have a supply of poo bags with you, and that bagged waste is put into a bin. It should not be left on the ground or hung from a tree. You need to be aware that if you don’t do this, you could receive a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100, or even be taken to court and fined up to £1,000.

 

The expenses of owning a pet

The cost of owning a pet is another major factor to consider when thinking about getting one. As well as the cost of buying your pet and all its equipment, there are many ongoing costs that you will need to pay during its lifetime. In fact the PDSA estimates the typical lifetime cost of owning a dog could be up to £12,200 and a cat £11,100.

But where does this money go? Let’s take a look at the three main expenses of owning a pet:

 

  • Food

Pet food can be really expensive, especially if your pet is a fussy eater and you have to fork out more money for food that your pet likes and is good for them. Even if you get into the groove of buying in bulk, food will still be a significant cost to take into account.

 

And on top of your pet’s normal food, you may end up forever buying biscuits and treats as well, which soon add up.

 

  • Health and social care

Your new pet will need vaccinations, microchipping and – should you decide – spaying or neutering. But that is only the beginning. It will need annual booster vaccinations as well as regular flea and worm treatments. Not to mention vet’s fees for any other illnesses.

Depending on the type of pet you have, there may also be grooming costs. Plus, you need to factor in any pet sitting or dog boarding costs for when you are working or away on holiday.

 

  • Pet insurance

If you are getting a pet, you need to decide whether or not to take out pet insurance. On the one hand it can be expensive and it’s tempting not to bother. But a good pet insurance policy will cover you and your pet for a wide variety of expenses, including illnesses and emergencies. Some also cover dental treatment and the cost of looking after your pet if you are in hospital. 

Many pet insurers also have a 24 hour pet helpline providing online advice if you are worried about your pet, which could save the time and cost of going to the vet. And if your pet does need vet treatment, many insurers will pay the vet directly, so you don’t need to find the money upfront.

If you do decide to get pet insurance, take time to look around for not only the best deal financially, but the best combination of cover for your pet.

 

So if you are thinking of getting a pet for Christmas, we hope that this article helps you to understand more about the responsibilities and costs of pet ownership. If you decide to go ahead and your family finances need a slight top up, remember that Loans 2 Go offers online loans that may be able to help. 

Do visit us here again soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Loans 2 Go.