It is easy to get lured in by the image of someone you love finding a puppy or kitten wearing a big red bow and being overwhelmed with happiness. Don't let the gifting magic cloud your vision. Once the initial joy moves on, reality will set in, and you or your loved one will now be responsible for a new pet. And trust us, it's much less adorable when your new puppy is peeing on the carpet than it is when it was sitting on it with a bow on their collar.
However if your heart is completely set on getting or gifting a new furry friend, don't let us dissuade you. Adding a new pet to your family can definitely be a wonderful thing. But here's the questions you need to ask yourself before visiting your local pet store or shelter.
1. Does everyone in the household want a pet?
Although the new puppy or kitten may be a gift for a specific person, if not everyone in the family is on board it can be trouble. If no one wants to or is able to help with caring for the pet, it puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulder of your gift recipient. Plus, it can definitely create some tension if you show up to your family party with a kitten for your niece and nephew, without their parents approval. Many families have their own reasons for not wanting to add a pet to their brood, and that should be respected.
2. Who will be the primary caretaker for the pet?
Is this pet for your best friend who's a stay-at-home mom with a flexible schedule that can fit in pet training? Is it for your college-aged cousin who's dying for a puppy to play with on the quad between class? Or is it for your workaholic dad that will need to use a pet sitter for the majority of the week? Not everyone will have the time, energy or schedule that allows them to train a puppy or kitten. If your gift recipient already has a hectic life, adding the responsibility of caring for a pet may not be a welcome gift.
3. Do they have the financial means to care for the pet?
According to the American Kennel Club, the average cost of raising a dog ranges from $2500 to $3500 depending on the breed of the dog. Whereas the average cost of raising a cat ranges from $1000 to $3000 according to Pet Education. Your gift may hurt your recipient's wallet a lot more than you realize.
4. Does anyone in the household have pet allergies?
You should already know if the person you're gifting a pet to has allergies, but what about those they live with? Their roommate, significant other or close friends could potentially have some serious allergies to something like pet dander, meaning that a furry friend in the house could send them to the hospital.
5. Is now the right time for a new pet?
Adding a pet to your family is simply a big decision, and the holiday season is notorious for people making ones without a lot of thought. Yes, a kitten meowing next to a menorah may be an adorable gift, but in the hectic end of the year rush, will you or your gift recipient be willing and have time to train their new kitten to use a litter box? Similarly with a puppy, will your gift recipient be okay with taking it for early morning walks in the snow? Would your gift of a furry friend be better received during a summer birthday when your recipient has more free time?
There are truly a lot of factors you need to think about before gifting a pet. In most cases, it's going to be a risky gift to give. In fact, the post-holiday season is known for sending an influx of dogs and cats to local animal shelters. But if you've done your research, made sure a pet is a gift that your recipient wants and has the ability to care for, let's be real there really is nothing cuter than a puppy or kitten with an oversized bow on their collar.