We all love our pets, so it makes sense that we may feel compelled to share that love by gifting a pet to someone. However, giving a pet as a gift is much more than a photo op on Christmas morning or during a birthday. A pet is a living, breathing creature that comes with a commitment.
Does that mean you can never give someone a pet as a gift? No, but there are things to consider to ensure that your decision is a responsible choice.
Things to Consider
Before picking out a new puppy, kitten, bird, turtle, chicken, or whatever else your you’ve set your eyes on for your recipient, ask yourself:
- Can this person care for a pet? Not only should the recipient be able to physically keep up with the demands of their new family member, they should also be in a stable position financially to take care of the pet. Veterinarian and food costs can add up quickly, especially if you gift an “exotic” pet, like a bird, rabbit, or lizard. Specialty pets aren’t always able to be seen at most veterinary offices and your loved one may not be willing or able to drive upwards of an hour to a veterinarian who can care for them. Even for “standard” animals, an unexpected emergency or illness can become quite costly.
- Has this person ever expressed interest in a pet? Just because someone likes animals, that doesn’t mean that they want to own a pet themselves. You should never just surprise someone with a pet, especially one they may not desire to keep.
- Does this person’s lifestyle allow for a pet? Someone with a busy school/work schedule may not be the best fit for a high-maintenance pet. Not only does that not leave enough time for them to properly care for their pet, but it’s unfair to the pet who wants to bond with their owner. They may also be unable to keep a pet due to their housing situation. Some landlords don’t allow pets and some people who live with roommates may not have consent from all parties to bring a pet into a shared home.
- Is the person ready for the responsibility of a pet? Before gifting young children with a pet, consider who will be the likely one to take care of the pet. Older children and parents are likely to be signed up as involuntary care takers. Pets aren’t seasonal accessories, either. If you gift a young animal, that animal is eventually going to age and may be around even after kids leave the nest. This doesn’t mean that the pet is any less deserving of a good and loving home.
- If you feel that you can answer these questions with “yes,” this last question will help you make a responsible final decision. What type of pet would be the best fit for this person? Different types of animals and different breeds of animals have different needs. If your recipient leads an active lifestyle, a young to middle-aged dog could be the perfect companion for them. If they have less time to devote to housetraining and young-animal teaching moments, a senior pet might be the right fit for them. For those who are older or those with mobility issues, a cat or even a fish could fit right in with their lifestyle.
Tips for Giving A Pet as A Gift
The best way to make sure that you’ve done your research and are making a responsible choice is to consult the recipient of your gift. Sure, it takes away the surprise element, but it allows you to have an open dialogue with that person to ensure that you’re giving them a gift that truly is perfect for them. If your intended recipient is a child, discuss your gift with the rest of the household to make sure everyone is onboard.
For those who still want to have an element of surprise for their gift, consider these ideas:
- Instead of giving someone a live animal, get them a stuffed version of your intended pet to allow them to prepare or discuss a better option with you.
- Give them a “new pet” care package with toys, treats, or blankets and offer to help them pick out their new pet from a local rescue or shelter.
- Purchase a gift certificate that covers an adoption fee from a local shelter and take them along to pick out their pet. This gives the person an opportunity to pick a pet that they feel they can bond with.
Giving pets as gifts can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. As long as you do your research and make the pet’s welfare top priority, the gift of a pet could be the most cherished gift your loved one will ever receive.
Covetrus North America is dedicated to the health of animals. Visit us online or contact your Covetrus North America representative at 855.724.3461.