Katherine Bryson, RVT
Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and birthdays are all special occasions when we may consider gifting a pet. Maybe for Easter you’ll cave and buy that snuggly little bunny your daughter has been begging for for the last 10 months. Before you rush out and pick out a new fur baby for your loved one there are some considerations that you should make.
Recipient’s Responsibility and Ability
Pet ownership can provide great enrichment to anyone’s life. However, it is important to consider who will be ultimately be responsible for the pet. Young children may not be responsible enough to properly care for their new pet, and therefore the care will lay mostly with the parents. The elderly may thrive with the companionship of a pet but not be physically able to care for an active puppy. Ensure that the new owners will be able to properly care for the new family member before they’re given as a gift!
Successful pet ownership includes matching the pet’s lifestyle to that of the owners. For instance you wouldn’t want to match someone who travels frequently with a dog who would require boarding while the owner is away, or an active long distance runner with a bulldog who would be unable to go with them. Most pets require daily exercise as an outlet for energy, therefore the new owners must understand this and be able to add in the appropriate time to their schedules. Puppies have unique needs related to diet and house training until they reach a certain age, this can be difficult for owners who are unable to come home during the day.
A pet is a lifelong commitment. Depending on breed dogs can live upwards of 15 years and cats 20 years; some parrots 100 years! When considering gifting a pet it is important to remember that children grow up and living arrangements are constantly changing. Who will be responsible for the pet when the children go off to college or the parents move into a care home?
A young pet requires patience and dedication. On the other end of the scale older pets may not adapt to new living conditions as easily as younger pets and present their own set of challenges.
Each species and breed of animal has their own unique requirements. Dogs need area to run and exercise the same way cats need an area for a litter box and scratching post. It is also important to remember that some apartments will not allow pets or may charge extra fees.
Budget & Investment
Pets can be costly. Can the new owner afford to provide quality care for their new pet? Consider yearly routine veterinary care, food, toys, training and emergency veterinary care – don’t assume the recipient can provide these services.
The Holidays are an especially busy time of year. Holidays are hectic for every household, adding a new pet during this time can be a disaster for all involved. If you have discussed all the considerations with the recipient and have decided that you are indeed going to gift a pet consider waiting until everyone goes back to their normal routines.
Just like humans, not all pets will get along. A meet and greet is always recommended before adding a pet to a household. It is also important to consider the species of animals – while cats love birds, the birds may become stressed if they have a kitty licking their chops over top the cage.
No matter the time of year, these considerations should always be thought of before adding a new member of the family. Ensure the recipient of the gift does indeed want a new pet, maybe they would prefer a donation to a local animal hospital instead. Remember that a pet is for life – not just the holidays!
If you ever have questions about a new pet or potential new pet NEVER hesitate to call or email us. We would love the opportunity to discuss this with you! Phone 902-838-1800, email firstname.lastname@example.org