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. Read on to learn the appropriate way to gift a pet at Christmas.
6 Things to Consider Before You Give a Pet as a Gift
Before gifting a pet this Christmas, make sure to carefully consider these six important factors:
1. Talk to the Recipient Beforehand
While gifts are typically about the element of surprise, you never want to give someone a pet without talking to them beforehand. Pets are a big commitment – of time, money, and care – and not everyone is ready to take on that responsibility.
Make sure that the recipient has expressed the desire for a pet, and that they’re 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 rehomed.
2. 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, socialization, and training
- Supplies like kennels, litter boxes, toys, and more
- Good hygiene practices
- Regular vet appointments
- 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.
3. 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 fit best into their current lifestyle.
The type of pet that works best for them will depend on the recipient’s time availability, living situation, and personality.
If they live an active lifestyle, for example, and they have the financial and 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, or even a small pet like a mouse or a hamster.
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 or HOA may have about pets.
If your recipient has children or lives with other people, they’ll also need to be taken into consideration. What type of pet would fit best in their household?
4. 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. Approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter shelters in the U.S every year.
Animals in shelters can range in age, breed, 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.
5. 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 a pet as a gift, but you 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 for the adoption fees, but the recipient can come to the shelter later when they’re ready to adopt.
6. Create a Surrender Plan
Even if you do all of the prior research before giving a pet as a gift, sometimes life happens, and a person’s circumstances can change. If you adopt a pet to give to someone as a gift, make sure you also have a plan in place in case the recipient can’t keep the pet.
If you’ve adopted the pet from a local shelter, talk to them beforehand about their return policies.
Many shelters prefer that you bring the pet back to them rather than try to rehome them yourself. Animal shelters and rescue organizations are better equipped to handle a pet’s medical needs in the meantime, and they can better screen potential pet parents.
Similarly, reputable breeders often require you to return the puppy to them to be rehomed. Make sure you understand all of your options before Christmas comes.
What Can You Give Instead of a Pet for 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 make a donation to their favorite 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 rescue organization 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 organization of choice.
Is Gifting a Pet the Right Option for You This Christmas?
Giving a pet as a gift requires careful planning and communication with the recipient. If you’re not sure if they’re ready to commit to a pet, consider other animal-themed gifts instead.
However, if you know the recipient is excited and ready to welcome a new furry family member into their home, a pet can bring them a lot of joy this holiday season.
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