Pets as Gifts – Things to Consider
The holiday season is flooded with images and scenes of puppies or kittens in gift boxes, popping out of stockings, and under Christmas trees. We have all seen a movie or commercial on TV featuring an adorable animal being given as a surprise holiday gift. Unfortunately, the reality is very different. A lot of shelters report an increase in early spring of animals that are being relinquished, most being gifted during the holidays. While many urge you not to give pets as gifts, there are others that argue this isn’t the worst idea.
If you are considering pets as gifts, here are some things to consider:
Is everyone in the household on board?
It is important to make sure that everyone in the household is in agreement about investing the time, money and care it takes to raise and love an animal. Is everyone willing to lend a hand in various duties involved with a pet? Animals require a lot of attention, and should be considered a family member. Some daily duties with animals can include walking, exercising, feeding, watering, training, grooming and vet visits. These can vary based on the personality, age and type of animal you are gifting.
Are there children in the home?
If there are children in the home, it is important to make sure they understand the fragility and responsibility of a pet. Sometimes children, especially young ones, may unknowing cause injury by playing too rough. While it is a great way to teach children to think of something outside themselves, be extra careful if the gift is to a house or children outside your own house. Gifting a pet to a child means the parents will take on more responsibility than they might have wanted.
Does the potential recipient(s) work full time?
Certain pets may become distraught at being left alone for long hours. Consider the hours that the recipient can dedicate to owning a pet. It is not a good idea for someone who will be away from the house for 8 to 12 hours a day to commit to an animal that needs to be exercised and requires constant attention.
Can they afford a pet?
Pets are not cheap, and need enrichment, just like any other member of the household. Before giving an animal that someone may be committing the next 10+ years of their life, you need to consider if they can afford the pet. They will need to pay for food, vet visits, heartworm or flea medicine, leashes and collars, chew toys, and any other items to maintain a happy, healthy habitat. Also, there are extraneous costs to consider. Do they travel a lot? Will they need to board their animals? Do they rent? Is there a pet deposit? It is important think about their financial health before bringing in a new family member into the household.
Does anyone in the house have pet allergies?
Sometimes allergies are not discovered until a person is in the presence of a particular animal. Or, you may not even know that the person has allergies. It can be a bummer to become attached and love a pet only to realize that it causes extreme discomfort.
These are a lot to consider. Family Veterinary Clinic recommends that if you are going to gift a pet you do so for a person in your immediate household, eliminating concerns about some of the questions above. A family discussion about household duties and responsibilities is important for households with children. Also, consider asking your local animal shelter for alternatives, such as sponsoring or fostering an animal. Click here for some great programs for the SCPA.
If you have any questions about purchasing a new pet, please call Family Veterinary Clinic. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can inform you about breeds and best care practices.