Giving a pet as a gift is not the best strategy, consider adopting later in the year, instead

Giving a pet as a holiday gift can be a sweet gesture, but this type of generosity can create unforeseen challenges. For instance, unless the gift giver plans on daily involvement and long-term pet care, it’s a lot to ask for someone to instantly take on the demands of pet ownership – even if they’ve dropped hints that they’d love one for the holidays.

There are great alternatives to this common (but not always successful) practice, and we’re here to support the causes of adoption, fostering and donating during the most wonderful time of the year.

All the Facets

Pet ownership is an exciting opportunity, but it’s also a huge commitment. Giving a pet to someone is typically only effective if an animal’s health, safety, and training are taken into account. They require lots of time, energy, and money in order to provide high quality nutrition, daily physical and mental enrichment, veterinary care, toys, bedding, and more.

What About the Fun?

Undoubtedly, pets are fun, they add a great deal to our own health and happiness, and give unconditional love. Before giving a pet, the following must be acknowledged:

  • Living situation (do they rent/own, have roommates, ample indoor and outdoor space, etc.).
  • Lifestyle of the recipient (can they run or walk a dog, keep a cat busy, are they gone a lot?).
  • Current financial wherewithal to provide for an animal.

Grim Reality

The sad truth is that many pets given as gifts are abandoned, re-homed, or found back in the shelter after the holidays. The best ways to avoid this include:

  • Instead of choosing a pet for someone, give a starter pack of all the things they’ll need to care for a pet. Bedding, travel kennel, litter, leash/collar, bowls, toys, etc.
  • When they’re ready to adopt, help them with the adoption fees and microchip costs.
  • We offer our Zero-cost wellness exam to increase a pet’s life expectancy, but you could invest in a pet insurance plan to help your friend or family member with dental care and future emergency costs.
  • Provide money or gift certificates for behavioral training or obedience classes. This directly impacts a pet’s ability to co-exist in a household.
  • Instead of giving a pet, purchase books, magazines, and other educational tools to help your loved one embrace the demands of pet ownership.
  • For a child, give them a plush animal that resembles the one they want. Help them “care for” their stuffie as they would a real pet, and when they’re ready assist them with adoption.
  • Make a donation to a shelter in your loved one’s name, or provide supplies, time, and services (like dog walking, kennel cleaning, or paperwork).
  • Fostering a pet during or after the holidays can help the animal lover in your life determine if they’re up to the task of providing lifelong health and happiness to a pet.

Giving a Pet

Adopting a pet is a deeply personal experience. We admire the magnanimous and big-hearted gesture, but giving a pet to someone for the holidays may not be the best choice.

If you have further questions or concerns about giving a pet to someone, please let us know. From all of us at Fairview Veterinary Hospital, happy holidays!