As a family living on the Treasure Coast, are you considering a family pet as a holiday gift? Have you been thinking a pet is a perfect gift for someone outside of your household? Is that a good idea?
As pet owners, veterinary professionals and pet rescuers, we are in a position where we have seen the good and the not-so-good that comes from gifting a pet. One thing for sure, is that giving a pet as a gift at anytime of the year, should require careful consideration and planning.
Of course, pets represent many wonderful things in life, but most of all it is important to realize that this gift is a live animal whose care, safety, and welfare are the most important considerations.
Please take time to consider;
Older pets likely have some training, they generally know what is home life is like, and they can adjust well, but there maybe challenges caused by unknown origins, or undiscovered medical conditions, and unwanted behaviors.
Young pets require a certain amount of dedication and even more patience, which must be impressed on the recipient of the pet. Not all children can or will care for a pet 100% of the time. Young pets can cause long days or nights with challenges from housetraining, inappropriate chewing, scratching, biting, whimpering or other vocalizations.
Please consider the lifespan of the pet. Some pets will outlive their caretaker, what will be the plan, should that happen.
The Recipient’s Age
Life can be enriched by pet ownership, but the recipient’s age must be considered also. Older adults can reap many benefits from owning a pet, but they may have physical or financial limitations to caring for a pet. Young children may not be able to care for a pet, so the parents of the child must be ready and willing to care for the pet.
Space, Time, and Budget
Some pets will need more room than others, and some will have a greater requirement for exercise, cleaning, training, and companionship. Some pets may fit in to a small space, but will they be content, clean, and healthy in that small space.
Does the recipient have the time to care for a new pet, there is a transition period for the pet and the new owner to get into a new routine, and will it be necessary for the new owner to take time off from work? Who will take care of the pet during vacations, or illness?
Pets can be costly, even if they are healthy and young, when first given. Can the recipient afford veterinary care, accidents, routine medical care and wellness care? Foods, grooming, training, supplements, and toys will all have an expense.
Other Pets in the Home
Consider if there are other pets already in the home. A new pet should never be a surprise, especially to the other pets in the home. One dog may love a certain cat, but chase all others, breaking furniture and making that cat’s life miserable. Will one pet injure a new one, cats and birds, dogs and small pets, such as hamsters or mice, may all be natural predator and prey. This can cause turmoil in a home at best and occasionally end in sad disaster.
Never give a surprise pet gift unless the adults in the home are aware, educated and prepared, and there is a backup plan if someone is allergic, afraid, or just can not deal with the responsibilities.
We never want to send the message that a living creature can just be “gotten rid of”, if things don’t work out. Proper planning will help to avoid a bad situation.
The holidays are very hectic for many families, and some people travel or have tight budgets at holiday season. With people visiting and doors opening and closing, the opportunity for a new pet to escape increases, new pets can be frightened by all of the activity and the decorations.
Consider Alternatives to Giving a Pet as a Gift
Give a gift certificate or a promise of a pet. The recipient can then picks their own pet, bring it home when they are prepared to begin care, and plan for the transition of the pet into their lives.
Gift a gift for an existing pet in that household. A year of pet insurance, a gift certificate for a microchip, grooming, new cage, food, treats, toys, training, and the many other supplies and requirements for keeping pets happy and healthy.
Many of us love pets and can not envision our lives without them, but even someone that loves pets, may not be willing or able to have one in their own life and home. Consider the needs of the pet as well as those of the recipient.