The holidays are full of ways to create warm memories, spread kindness, and show compassion. Pets increase all of these things exponentially, offering unconditional love and giving people a chance to be their best selves. Fostering a pet during the holidays is an excellent way to give back and receive.
When you choose to foster a pet during the holidays, the one-on-one attention they receive is invaluable. You also get more insight into the pet’s personality and provide more socialization opportunities, increasing their chances of adoption. Fostering also alleviates the added stress shelters face during the holiday season, which allows them to help more pets.
Pets and shelters aren't the only ones that reap the benefits of your decision to be a foster pet parent. You'll also enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from helping animals. Plus, research suggests interacting with pets can reduce stress.
Reasons to Bring a Pet Home to Foster for the Holidays
If you're unsure about adding a dog or cat to the family permanently, you may have already thought about fostering. Choosing to foster a pet is a great way to see how your family would handle having a pet in the home.
But even more importantly, sharing your home with a pet in need gives them something extremely valuable. Fostering dogs and cats allows pets to feel what home is all about, and this treasured gift is precious during the holidays.
1. Give a Pet Some Valuable One-On-One Attention
Admittedly, shelters do a lot of good, but they're still stressful for many dogs and cats. Typically, shelters are full of noises, smells, and other elements that make pets anxious. Simply being around so many other animals puts many dogs and cats on edge. (Think about how you get when you’re trying to finish your holiday shopping in an overcrowded, noisy mall.)
During the holidays, shelters often get busier, which puts a strain on resources, including staff and volunteers. It's difficult to keep pets on a schedule, which adds to their stress and anxiety levels.
Limited resources and overcrowding in shelters also mean the pets in the shelter won't get much one-on-one attention. The lack of human interaction can set back pets’ adoption hopes, not to mention they won't get the love and affection they deserve.
Fostering a pet gives them a safe, comfortable place to relax and the opportunity to stick to a routine. Having a schedule helps pets maintain a sense of security and peace because they know what to expect. You also give pets the benefit of experiencing life in a low-stress, home environment.
2. Free Up Space in Shelters
As mentioned previously, shelters get busy during the holidays. Between more animals coming in and potentially fewer volunteers during the busy holiday season, pet shelters need lots of help.
Agreeing to foster a dog or cat in your home frees up space and resources at the shelter while keeping the pet in the adoption pool. Workers at the shelter can devote more time and supplies to the pets still in the facility. They can also accept more pets in need that have no place to go.
3. Increase a Pet’s Chances of Adoption
Pets in shelters don’t normally show their true colors since they’re stressed and unsure of what to expect. These dogs and cats are also usually cared for by multiple people, making it hard for anyone to get an accurate picture of their personality.
When you take care of a pet in your home you get to know a lot about them. You’ll be able to tell the shelter how your foster acts around strangers, other pets, kids, and in various situations. This provides valuable information the shelter can use to find the pet a forever home.
Pets in foster homes also have more opportunities for socialization, whether it’s visits to the park or meetings with friends. These exposures broaden a pet’s tolerance and experience levels. Plus, you introduce the animal to many more people than they would meet in the shelter, which opens the door to more potential adopters.
4. Teach Children About Caring for a Pet
A popular request of many children during the holidays is for a puppy or kitten. If you’re not ready for a permanent furry family member, fostering is a great way to let your kids experience the joy of a pet temporarily. It also gives you a clearer indication of how your children would take care of a pet and if they can handle the responsibility.
Caring for pets and forming relationships with them is also beneficial for kids in several ways. Pets can help kids develop communication skills, empathy, and the ability to care for living things.
5. Form Lasting Holiday Memories
Although fostering means your furry friend is a short-term house guest, it still gives you the chance to create long-lasting memories. You experience the warmth and joy of giving to others while getting a lot of love in return.
How to Prepare for a Foster Pet
If you’re planning to foster a pet during the holidays, it’s best to prepare before bringing home a dog or cat.
1. Know Your Holiday Plans
The holidays get busy, between traveling, parties, and family dinners, there are plenty of things going on. Before you agree to foster a pet during this busy time of year, know your schedule. If you’re going to be out of town for an extended time, it might not be the best idea.
If you plan to host out-of-town guests, make sure they know you’ll have animals in the home. To put it simply, ensure bringing home a pet makes sense with your holiday plans.
2. Gather Pet Supplies
Don’t wait until you have a dog or cat in your house to get the things you need. Gathering pet supplies ahead of time greatly reduces stress and allows you to make your furry friend feel at ease from the start.
You need basics like a pet bed, kennel, food and water bowls, engaging pet toys, a leash, a litter box, a litter scoop, etc. Other items include grooming supplies, parasite prevention, and any unique items your foster needs.
Often, the shelter or rescue group will provide many of the supplies to you at no cost, as well as vet care and medications. However, if you have the funds available, you could cover the costs of pet care to extend extra support to the shelter.
3. Create a Quiet, Safe Zone for Your Foster Pet
Set up an area that is just for your foster pet. Make sure it’s a calm, quiet place that is away from the hustle and bustle of the home. Place a comfortable bed, water dish, and some toys in the area to entice your dog or cat to retreat there as needed.
4. Pet-Proof Your House
Go through your home and pet-proof your house to ensure your guest stays safe. Get rid of toxic plants and flowers, keep medications and cleaning supplies out of reach, and cover trash cans or put them in a closed cabinet.
It’s also important to review holiday pet safety since the season introduces a whole new level of risks and hazards. Pets get into trouble when it comes to things like ornaments, rowdy guests, spilled food and drinks, and tempting presents.
5. Get to Know Your Foster Fur Baby
Ask the shelter to give you as much information about the dog or cat before you bring them home. Depending on the situation, they may know a lot or not very much.
However, everything you can learn about your new housemate helps. For example, ask about the pet’s age, demeanor, quirks, how they get along with people, any special medical needs, and diet restrictions.
Give Back This Holiday by Fostering a Pet
When you bring home a pet to foster for the holidays, you’re not simply helping a pet in need. You also get a heartwarming experience that brings you joy and opens your heart. Sharing your home and your heart with a dog or cat looking for love is a special gift for you and them.