The holiday season is upon us once again. Shoppers around the world are searching for the perfect Christmas gifts to give their friends, relatives and coworkers. Christmas pets will soon be making their way to new homes just in time to bask in the love and affection showered on them on Christmas morning. Is giving a pet as a Christmas present a good idea though? Before you decide, there are ten questions you really need to ask yourself so you can make the best decision for the pet and for the recipient.
10: Are there already pets in the home?
The last thing any animal lover needs is the stress of trying to introduce a new pet to the pets they already have added to the stress of the holidays. If you’re thinking of giving someone a small animal that lives in a cage (a hamster, rabbit or something similar) then you probably don’t have much to worry about, but if you’re giving someone a puppy or a kitten and there are already dogs or cats in the house, your gift could cause the recipient a lot of stress. They’ll probably love their new friend and will probably appreciate your thoughtfulness once the stress dies down, but it’s a much better idea to check with them first. Sure it may ruin the surprise but it will give them time to prepare as well.
09: Is the potential pet owner allowed to have pets?
If the potential pet owner lives in an apartment building, rents their home or lives with their parents, you really need to make sure they’re allowed to have a pet because you give them one. You don’t want your loved one to bond with their new friend only to have to give it away. Don’t assume a friend living in an apartment building is allowed to have a pet simply because some of their neighbors do. There may be a specific arrangement in place between the other pet owners and the landlord. Some landlords will allow occupants to have pets if they pay a special pet deposit. You don’t want your gift to wind up costing the recipient a sizable chunk of change. Check with the landlord if you can or check with the other residents that have pets. If you’re still not sure, just ask your friend. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
You also need to consider the type of pet you’re gifting. Many apartment buildings or rental spaces are fine with rodents in cages, fish, birds or reptiles and amphibians in cages because they don’t really bother other tenants. Dogs can make a lot of noise. Unless they’re well trained for apartment living, a dog will have a very hard time staying quiet as neighbors come and go. For that reason, many apartments simply don’t allow dogs. When finding out whether or not your friend is allowed pets, make sure you specify what kind of pet you are considering giving them.
08: Does the potential pet owner have room for a pet?
This is another good question to ask yourself when you’re thinking about giving a dog or a cat to someone living in an apartment building. Spayed or neutered cats make great apartment pets. They do enjoy outside time but they’re also quite content to spend much of their time inside as long as they have enough room to play. Cats like to stay active so tiny, cluttered apartment won’t really suit them. A spacious apartment can make a fine home for a feline friend.
Generally speaking, animals, especially dogs, are happier when they have lots of ‘outside’ time. As long as your friend is willing to give them that time, you should have nothing to worry about. Does your friend enjoy walking, spending time at the beach or visiting local parks? A dog might make a great companion for those activities. You need to consider the size of the apartment, however, as well as the size of the dog. Large dogs will obviously need more room and generally aren’t very well suited for apartment life. Smaller dogs, on the other hand, can be perfectly happy in a spacious apartment.
07: Has the potential pet owner recently suffered the loss of a pet?
Gifting a Christmas pet to someone who recently lost a pet seems like a great idea on the surface. What better way to show someone you understand and sympathize with their loss than to help them fill the void the loss has left in their life? Well, there are many ways and giving them a new animal may not be at the top of that list. A person really has to be ready to welcome a new animal into their home and into their heart. If they’ve been talking about getting a new pet then you’re probably doing the right thing. If they haven’t mentioned it, you may want to try hinting around about it and gauging their reaction first.
06: What kind of pet should you consider?
This might seem like a no-brainer but is more important than one might think. Puppies and kittens are awesome but they’re really not for everyone. There are lots of great options out there if you really believe a pet is the best gift you can give a friend or family member. Birds, reptiles, amphibians and the like can be great gift ideas as long as you know what the person you’re buying for is interested in. Buying a snake for someone who is terrified of snakes is a terrible idea obviously but so is buying a kitten for someone who prefers dogs or a puppy for someone who prefers cats. If you don’t know the person well enough to know what kind of pet they might like, you probably don’t know the person well enough to give them a pet.
05: Does the potential pet owner (or another resident of the home) have allergies?
You do not – and I repeat do not– want to give someone with allergies the pet that they’re allergic to. You just don’t want to do that. It will not go well for you or for the person receiving their allergen as a pet. That much is obvious. You also don’t, however, want to give someone a pet if someone else in their home has an allergy to said pet. Find out the allergy situation before you give someone their new Christmas kitten or Christmas puppy. It will save you, and the recipient a whole lot of trouble in the long run.
04: Are there children in the home?
Children and pets aren’t always the great combination one would imagine. You need to be careful when introducing a pet to a home with children. Puppies and kittens are generally a good choice as long as they animals are young or have already shown themselves to be good with children. Generally speaking, young animals will be able to adjust to their new environment quite well, getting used to being around the children in the home as they grow and learn. Older pets, on the other hand, might not do quite as well. Chances are good that animals of a certain age will already have made up their minds about the little humans and if that opinion isn’t a favorable one, you won’t be giving anyone a very Merry Christmas.
You also need to consider the age of the children in the home. Younger children can be taught to play gently with their new furry friend but that’s really something you should let the parents decide. If you’re thinking about buying a pet for your own children, you need to understand that younger kids just might not understand how easy it is to hurt an animal while playing with it. A Christmas pet for your children can be a wonderful idea as long as you have the time to supervise your children with your pet during play. Correct your kids if they’re being too rough. An animal that feels threatened may bite or scratch your child or your child may engage what they think is harmless play and could accidentally hurt or even kill their new pet. Supervision is important. If you don’t think you’ll have the time, then save Christmas pets until your children are older and more able to understand how to play safely.
03: How does the potential pet owner treat animals?
If your friend or family member doesn’t seem to have much patience with animals, a Christmas pet is not a good gift for them. They might say they love animals but how they treat other people’s pets is a pretty good indication of how they’ll treat their own. You have a responsibility to make sure the pet you are giving as a Christmas present is going to a safe home. Is your friend kind, loving and affectionate with your pets? Make this easy for yourself. Would you trust your friend to take care of your pet while you’re on vacation? If so, a Christmas pet is probably a great idea.
02: Does the potential pet owner have the financial means to care for a pet?
Pets can be expensive. A pet owner needs to be able to buy food for their pet and make sure it lives in a safe environment. If the pet is an animal that lives in a cage, the pet owner will need bedding for that cage. Vet bills are also something that need to be considered. Cats and dogs should be spayed or neutered, regardless of whether they’re indoor or outdoor animals. If your friend or family member is struggling financially, a pet is the last thing they need. It will be another mouth to feed and will do little to ease the financial burden.
01: Does the potential pet owner have time to care for a pet?
Most pets require a lot of time and attention from their owner. If the person you want to buy a pet for is away from home a lot or travels frequently, giving them a pet is a terrible idea. While the person may eventually decide they’re ready for a pet or want a companion on their travels, let them get one on their own.
Taking a pet into your life is, or at least should be, a big decision that isn’t taken lightly. The same should be said for giving a pet as a Christmas gift. Every year, animal shelters are inundated with Christmas kittens and Christmas puppies that seemed like a great idea at the time but weren’t given enough thought. Some of these animals will find new homes and some will not. Don’t add to the burden on these shelters. Think before you give an animal as a pet. Stuffed animals are cute, inexpensive and are a much better idea for some people than the real deal.