We see it time and time again, a child has asked for a new pet for this Holiday Season and someone has received that message and fulfilled it. Is it possible that that wasn’t such a good idea? Pets as a new Holiday gift can be an experience and a memory that your child will hold dear forever and ever but is it possible that it not have been the right move? A lot of people when purchasing a pet for their own children or for a niece, nephew, cousin, etc. They always have the best intentions in mind, but it is a fact that more than half of those pets will have to be rehomed or returned and here is why. These people did not know the first questions to ask themselves before making such a big purchase, whether it is a dog or cat, or even a hamster or goldfish there is a lot to know before giving them as gifts:
Can you financially take them on?
A lot of people see an adorable pet and think, well how hard can it be? Well maybe for the goldfish most of your expense will be the tank and everything you put into it but after that all you have to do is buy food and….the occasional replacement nemo 😉 (We have all been there). But what about when you buy a cat or a dog. They need to have all of their vaccinations as well as be spayed or neutered while they are still Puppies/Kittens and even older pets need their vaccinations. Not to mention the toys, treats, food, beds, litter (for cats), harnesses and leashes (more for dogs). Or what about the accidental eating of something that they maybe shouldn’t have gotten into, and now has to have emergency surgery or to be hospitalized????? These are the things that you must think of when you make such a big purchase. The finances should always be first and foremost when deciding on buying a pet, because once it has been bought and shown to the children it makes it a lot harder on them when they are given away!! And no one wants to be that person who has to rehome or return an adorable pet due to their own misjudgment. Why should the children and more so the pet be punished for that?
Can you handle the extra responsibility?
Now maybe cleaning out the fish bowl or the hamster cage does not put that much of a damper on your everyday life, but what about for cats and dogs? Making sure that Fluffy makes it to her Vet Appointment, or Scruffy needs to have a grooming appointment may put a damper on your day. Or what about that beautiful high energy lab that your parents bought for the grandkids that needs to be walked/ran at least twice a day or they chew everything up in the house because they have so much pent up energy and no where to release it? Pets are a lot of responsibility, you need to make sure that they are cared for in the best possible way and have everything that they may possibly need to be happy. Are you sure that you can do all of those things? Make sure that when buying a pet you also remember to buy a breed that is better suitable to your lifestyle. If you need something a little more self sufficient then you may want to consider getting a cat. They basically take care of themselves, minus feeding them and cleaning out their litter box. Dogs may be better for someone who lives a more active lifestyle, children’s soccer games at the park weekly or going along for family walks every evening.
Are the children old enough?
Some kids have the honor of coming into this world already having a furry sibling, but not all. Some children may have not had much of an interaction with pets at all! In this case, you may want to make sure that they are old enough to handle such a responsibility. The best way to decide, is to see if you can pet sit for a friend or family member. Make a list of chores that your child will be responsible for while that pet stays with you. Even a child as young as 4 or 5 can help with feeding time or scooping litter or poop from the backyard! This can be a very good lesson for teaching your child responsibility but making sure that they are old enough for those responsibilities is key!
Are you buying for another families children?
It is a very sweet gesture to buy your nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors children, friends children a new pet, but please make sure that you bring your idea to the parents first and foremost!!! This is very important! That way you can make sure to go over the list of questions above to decide whether this purchase is best or not. Although Holiday gift surprises are the best, this may not be one of them!
Are you in it for the long haul?
Pets are a responsibility for as long as they are with us. Dogs may be in our lives for 8+ years and cats can be with us all the way up into their 20’s! They are adorable when they are kittens and puppies but you also have to be fully prepared for when they age as well. Their health may decline and they may require medications and special treatments, make sure that you are ready for that. You must also be able to handle the point in which it is their time to go, as well as preparing your children for the possible loss as well!
We hope that if you are in the market to buy a pet as a gift this holiday season you think of all of the above questions that we posed. This way we can bring the joy of adding a new pet to wonderful families without also having the sad repercussions of having to send the pet back or rehoming one 🙁