The Paw-sibilites & Pitfalls of Christmas Pet Presents

Dachshund Puppy at Christmas

The holiday season is here, and many people have started shopping for presents for their friends and family.

Giving gifts is one of the most magical parts of the holidays and giving a pet can seem like the perfect gift for the animal lover in your life.

However, giving a pet as a gift isn’t always the right choice, and it requires careful planning and consideration.

Different views exist on whether pets should be given as gifts. Concerns revolve around the possibility of not fitting in with the family and, ultimately, being abandoned.           

Things to consider before gifting a pet

Talk to the recipient beforehand

Whilst gifts are typically about the element of surprise, you never want to give someone a pet without talking to them beforehand.

Having a dog or a cat is a 15–18-year commitment.

During this time a family dynamic might change as well as the family financial situation.

Make sure that the recipient has expressed the desire for a pet, and that they are currently ready to bring home a new furry family member.

Surprising someone who isn’t ready for a pet could result in the animal being surrendered to a shelter or re-homed

Make sure the recipient is prepared

Even if the recipient is excited to be a pet parent, they may not be fully prepared to bring the pet home yet. Pets require so much more than just a warm, safe home. To be a responsible pet owner, the recipient also needs to provide:

  • A nutritional, species- appropriate diet

  • Time for exercise, play, socialisation, and training

  • Supplies like, kennels, litter boxes, toys and more

  • Good hygiene practices

  • Financial commitment to the pet’s well-being

If the recipient of the pet isn’t quite ready to take on these responsibilities, now may not be the best time to give them a pet.

Choose the pet wisely

If you’ve ensured that your recipient is ready and able to provide for a new pet, you’ll have to decide what type of pet will best fit into their current lifestyle. The type of pet that works best for them will depend on the recipients, time availability, living situation and personality.

If they live an active lifestyle, for example and they have the financial and the time availability to spend, an energetic dog could be a great fit. By contrast, someone with less flexibility in their schedule may prefer a cat that’s lower maintenance.

The amount of space will also play a big role in the type of pet that would work best. A large dog, for example, may not be the best fit for someone with a studio apartment. You should also consult the recipient for any rules that their landlord may have about pets.

If your recipient has children or lives with other people, they’ll also need to be taken into consideration.

Consider adoption

While buying a puppy or kitten from a breeder may seem like the best option, there are so many sweet, loving animals waiting in shelters across the country for their second chance at a forever home.

Animals in shelters can range in breed, age, and personality, so there’s bound to be a furry friend that fits what you’re looking for. Not only will you be spreading holiday cheer to the recipient of the gift, but you’ll also give the gift of a loving family to an animal in need.

Consider donating money or buying a certificate instead

For some, the act of heading into the shelter or meeting with a breeder to see all of the available animals, is an important part of becoming a pet parent. If you want to give the gift of a pet, but also want the recipient to have the opportunity to pick out their own pet, consider giving a certificate or a monetary donation instead.

Many animal shelters will offer adoption certificates as an option to purchase. This way, you can pay the adoption fees, but the recipient can come to the shelter later, when they are ready to adopt.

What can I give instead of a pet this Christmas?

If you’re not sure whether a pet is the right gift for the animal lover in your life, there are many other options that you can consider.

You could gift them a starter kit for when they decide to bring home a new pet. Fill a basket with things like, toys, collars, leashes, and other necessities that will be helpful to get them started as a pet parent.

Another great option is to donate to their favourite animal charity on their behalf to help more animals this holiday season.

Similarly, you could gift them a day of volunteering at their local animal shelter or rescues organisation by setting up volunteer hours for you both.

Or you could simply take over their daily responsibilities so they’re free to spend the time at their organisation of choice.

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