Q: We are thinking about getting a pet for Christmas. What kind of pet should I get, and what should I expect?

A: This is the time of year people start thinking about getting a pet for Christmas, and I understand it makes for an exciting gift, but I do not think it is the best time of year to introduce a new member of the family. A new pet requires a lot of attention during a time when there is a lot going on. Christmas is not a “calm” time of year. It is also cold, snowy, and rainy outside, making the challenge for you and your pet even greater.

After almost 40 years of being a veterinarian, I have learned that I cannot always talk people out of getting a pet for Christmas. So, if I can’t talk you out of getting a pet for the holidays, it will be ok. You will have a great companion for years, but you must choose wisely.

The first thing to consider is what type of pet is right for you and your family. Are you a dog or cat lover, or maybe you would prefer a more exotic pet, like a hamster or reptile? Let’s just say you would like a puppy; do you want a purebred or a mutt. If you go for a specific breed, make sure you research the characteristics of the breed you want, ex., you would probably not want a Golden Retriever for a guard dog.

Many people choose their breed based on appearance; they like the way the pet looks but are surprised by some unexpected personality traits.

Also, make sure you know what potential medical problems each breed may have. I can’t stress this enough. Some breeds are prone to medical issues that can be costly over the life span of a pet. Do your research and make an educated decision. This is an important decision. We offer a FREE consultation on choosing the correct pet for you and your family. Please take advantage of this free consultation or consult your veterinarian BEFORE you bring a new pet into your home.

I have seen many people have great results with all breeds of pets over the years. Dogs of different breeds (mixed) seem to dilute the gene pool, which can lessen some of the breed-specific inherited problems seen in full-blooded breeds.

I believe love and proper care can overcome many problems in pets and people and the way your pet is raised has the most to do with the way it turns out. Raising your pet requires a relationship. Raising a pet requires time and love. If you invest time and love, the dividend received is a trusted friend, truly a best friend.