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Birthdays, summer vacations and holidays can be the best or worst of times to welcome a new pet into your home. While the emotions and warmth of the occasion can inspire you to share your home with an animal, the distractions can also make this a terrible time to bring home a furry friend.

Although it may seem like a pet would cheer someone up who is down, you must make certain that this person is ready for a pet. And just because you want a dog at this time doesn’t mean that now is the right time to introduce a new member of the family to your home.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when thinking about acquiring a pet:

First, never recommend giving an unexpected living gift. Your intensions may be good, but good intensions can prove disastrous. People sometimes make the mistake of providing a pet to ease the loneliness of a friend, but all too often these animals wind up in a shelter.

Second, the recipient may have allergies that you’re not aware of.

Third, the recipient should be able to choose this or her own pet companion to match with their own needs and personalities.

Fourth, you can’t be sure that the recipient wants to take on the responsibility of a pet, including providing medical care for the next ten to twenty years.

Fifth, never give a cat or a dog to replace one that just died. Some people need time to mourn their loss before they can welcome a new animal in to their lives.

Also, vacations and holidays are busy times. Pets need love, care, and a routine.

If you’re determined to give a pet, after things have settled down into a routine is a much better time to give or get a furry friend. Or, better yet, how about giving the “promise of a pet” instead. Rather than bringing a surprise pet home, you can pack a little carrying crate with bowl, collar, leash, microchip gift certificate, and books about dogs or the breed of dog you’d like to give. Enclose an IOU or card that promises to take family members to a breeder or shelter when they are ready to choose the pet of their dreams.

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