DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – If you’re planning to purchase a pet as a holiday present, experts said you should think twice before you commit. That’s because while you may be in a giving spirit and have good intentions, recipients may or may not be fully prepared to take on the responsibility.

“Already I’ve started to see people purchasing animals on a whim,” said William Marshall, owner of Pawsome Pet Supplies and Grooming in Miamisburg. 

He said buying pets spontaneously can be “a really bad way to buy an animal” and pets purchased this way are the ones returned most frequently. One of the major aspects of pet ownership he said people should consider before finalizing the purchase is the financial responsibility. 

“To get set up with a dog is significantly more expensive than a cat,” he said. “Cats are a little easier, the products are a little less money. Dogs — I mean it could be anywhere from $500 to $1,000 to get started, not including the animal itself.”

Kaitlin Becraft, marketing manager for SICSA Pet Adoption and Wellness Center, said those looking to gift pets should also ensure the person receiving it has enough time on their hands, both in the short and long term.

“You should expect anywhere between 12, 15, 20 years with an animal, given which one you are adopting,” she said.

And while the idea of getting a furry, scaly or feathered companion may come from a good place, Becraft said pets are one gift that should absolutely not come as a surprise. 

“If someone is looking to bring an animal into their home, they should be a part of that decision making process,” she said. “It’s best not to spring that on someone and it’s good for the entire family to be involved in making that decision and understanding the responsibility that will come with that.”

Both Becraft and Marshall said having these discussions can offer time to talk about things like vet bills, food, care costs and expectations while the owner is away. Becraft said if parents are getting pets for their children, they should still be prepared to inevitably take on some responsibilities associated with the new member of the family. And if the consensus is that your loved one is ready for a pet, she said shelters are more than happy to send the animals out to loving homes. 

“[Christmas] is a good time for people who maybe are a little bit busier with work, where they’ll have the extra time to spend with that animal, but again, it’s important to remember that you still should be prepared to keep them once you go back to work. But it is a lot of fun and we, of course, are so happy and grateful to see animals leave the shelters and find their forever families no matter what time of year it is.”