Thinking about getting a pet for your kids? Read this first.

Nothing is more adorable than a kitten or a puppy. They’re cute, playful, and easy to love. Therefore, it often seems like the perfect idea to gift kittens, bunnies, and puppies to our children. However, people tend to forget that with pets come enormous responsibility. Oftentimes, these innocent pets are taken back to the shelter or are abandoned after new pet owners realize that pets are more than just cute faces. If you’re considering gifting a pet to your kids, first consider these questions:

Am I in a Position—Financially and Timewise—to Take Care of an Animal?

If you’ve never owned a pet, you might not understand the amount of time, patience, and money that goes into taking care of an animal. Trips to the veterinarian can be costly, dog vaccinations and cat vaccinations aren’t just “one and done,” and emergency vet trips are more common than you think. Additionally, trips to the veterinarian aren’t even the hard part. You need to always check your animals for signs of illness, injury, and distress. Caring for an animal isn’t much different than caring for a child. While all animals differ on their maintenance needs, it’s oftentimes easy to underestimate how much time and energy go into pet care. Therefore, if you don’t think you have the time or money to love and take care of a pet, then don’t buy one for your children.

Are You Mentally Prepared for all of the Effort that Comes with Pet Care?

It’s one thing to have all of the time and money in the world, but those things are meaningless if you don’t have the patience or energy to devote to a new pet. Pets need constant attention, and it takes a certain type of patient person to be able to understand and respond to pets’ needs. Not being keen on animals doesn’t make you a bad person, but it is a good indicator that you should reconsider buying a pet for your kids. Additionally, while your kids might be good with pets, it’s your responsibility as an adult to make sure the pet is happy and healthy, not theirs.

Do Your Kids Actually Want a Pet?

This question seems like a no brainer, but it’s fairly easy to assume that everyone wants a puppy or kitten. Puppies are cute, right? Who wouldn’t want one? Well, it turns out that sometimes people, children included, don’t really want a pet. Unfortunately, an animal is much harder to return than a toy. With shelters being overcrowded as it is, adding another puppy or kitten to the mix is going to be a lose-lose for everyone involved. Therefore, it’s best to assess whether or not your kids really want an animal. If they’ve been asking for years and have shown that they can be responsible and not lose interest after a week, then definitely consider it! Otherwise, maybe hold off and wait until they’re ready.