New pet checklist: What you need to know before you buy a pet for Christmas

Child getting pet on christmas
While they may be cute, pets are a massive responsibility. Photo credit: Getty.

At this time of year wishlists to Santa are being penned and many feature puppies, kittens, guinea pigs or any number of furry friends right at the top of the list.

While getting a new pet sounds great in theory, it's not just about tying a bow around their necks and getting a cute TikTok of the kids opening the box. 

Buying and owning a pet is a massive responsibility and the SPCA says it's expecting a big rush of adoptions - and a subsequent load of questions. 

Here are a few key tips for getting a new pet during the festive season: 

Make sure you puppy proof - before the puppy arrives

"Puppies are naturally curious and inquisitive, so it's imperative to make sure you puppy proof the inside and outside of your house - you'd be amazed what trouble puppies can get into," Aussie vet Dr Ben Porter told Mamamia.

This means you should tidy away used wrapping paper and ribbons, and Christmas decorations like tinsel, all of which can get stuck in pets' stomachs and lead to unnecessary and expensive surgery. Hide away electrical sockets or cords and make sure medications and vitamins are out of each. 

Doing this all before they arrive is key -  you don't want to add another task to clearing up accidents and stopping them eating the Christmas pavlova.

Consider adopting an older pet

When a new pet is joining the family, many people get in their heads the only option is a brand new puppy or kitten. Sure, they're extremely cute, but all that toilet training and endless energy can actually be a bit of a headache - especially if you add young children into the mix. Consider adopting an older cat (eight years and over) or a middle-aged dog (five to eight years of age) from your local SPCA.  Research consistently shows that animals in these age groups are the hardest group to re-home and hence spend the longest time in the shelter.

Do the admin

There is of course a lot of admin that comes with owning a pet - it isn't all cuddles and ball throwing. They'll need a checkup at the local vet, vaccinations to guard them against diseases and regular flea and tick prevention appointments.

Post lockdown, pet food producer Purina is launching a new virtual check in service which offers free, pre-bookable appointments via Facebook for all new pet owners. 

From there you can get a 15 minute virtual consultation with a qualified veterinary nurse, and advice on the six signs of pet health to help pet owners learn more about their pet and ways to monitor their health and wellbeing. 

You'll also need to contact your local council about registering your dog, and it's a good idea to get pet insurance for peace of mind.