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Giving a pet as a gift – important considerations

Thinking about giving a pet as a gift in the run up to Christmas? Don’t ignore the many responsibilities that come with animal care.

giving a pet as a gift

Giving a pet as a gift can be exciting and fun, but it is also bring numerous responsibilities along with excitement.

Before giving a child, ageing parents, or other loved ones a pet – especially as a surprise – the gift giver should be sure the pet will be welcome, well taken care of and loved for the rest of its life. After the initial thrill, the recipient will need to make a commitment of time and money to care for the new family member. Pets need vaccinations, licenses, veterinary care, food, shelter and adequate space for their size, all of which can be costly and a burden for some people.

Many people start to think about giving pets as a gift at this time of year. However animals, particularly small puppies or kittens, can become frightened or even injured amid the commotion. Plus the animal may have already experienced stress from being moved to a new home. Rather than springing a surprise it is probably best to allow new pet owners to plan for an adjustment period in which the pet can experience a quiet, calm environment and bonding can take place at a gradual pace with special care and attention.

The bond between an individual or family and a pet is a critical component of successful pet ownership. Choosing a pet for someone else may compromise the potential for a bond to develop and could result in another homeless pet placed in an animal shelter. It is better to fully consider the impact of giving a pet as a gift for someone.

Considerations – giving a pet as a gift

  • Is the person allowed to have pets – by parents or landlords?
  • Does anyone in the family have allergies to animals?
  • Are the person’s living arrangements compatible with the animal you’ve chosen? For example, a Great Dane would not do well in a flat.
  • Does the person want a pet? Is he or she committed to it long-term care – dogs and cats can live 12 to 18 years or longer, and some birds can live up to 75 years – and willing to devote the time and attention an animal needs?
  • Is the person able to care for the pet physically and financially?
  • If the pet is being given to a child, is he/she old enough for the responsibility of pet care? If not, are the child’s parents willing to take on the responsibility?
  • Is the person prepared to deal with the special problems that can come with pet ownership, like fleas, accidents if the pet isn’t house-trained, chewed or scratched furniture and medical emergencies?
  • If the person has other pets, will they tolerate a new family member?

Giving a pet as gift could result in unwanted outcomes for both the animal and the new owner – however, a gift certificate to choose a pet along with books on different animals or breeds may be the ideal gift. If you are considering gifting a pet, heed the advice of vets and wrap up a collar, lead, toy or pet-care and training book with a card offering to purchase the pet of someone’s choice – after the hectic festive season is over.

For more stories about caring for pets, visit our Pets channel.

Tags: Last modified: November 4, 2021

Written by 9:24 am Pets