Pets are a wonderful addition to our human families.  With the hustle and bustle of the holidays  in full swing and sometimes the idea of getting a loved one a pet may be considered.  People often think that giving a puppy, kitten or other furry critter at the holidays is a great way to celebrate and show their affection for their loved ones.   Although people have their heart in the right place, these cute gifts could end up being disastrous! (for the pet and the human)

We are extra busy during the holidays, and our routines are very different than they are during the rest of the year.  Bringing a pet into this hectic time can cause unneeded stress for the pet and the recipient.  Although getting a new pet is exciting, it also changes our routine and changes our priorities.  The pets must become a priority to the recipient which often means that another priority must be given up.  Pets that are given as gifts are often neglected when they first come into a new home, which can lead to health and behavior problems.

In some cases, people give a pet as a gift without asking if the recipient wants a pet.  Pets are a huge responsibility.  They require food, bedding, time, veterinary care and attention.  If the recipient has not planned on getting a pet, he/she may become overwhelmed with the financial responsibility.  In addition, if the recipient has not planned to get a pet, he/she may not have time in their schedule to properly care for that pet.  Unfortunately, pets that are given as gifts often end up in shelters when the recipient cannot properly care for them.

The holiday season also involves many hidden dangers for pets.  Many of the decorations can be ingested by a pet and can lead to health issues, surgery or, in extreme cases, death.  In addition, we have many holiday treats like chocolate, that are toxic to pets.  Ingesting something that is not edible or that is toxic can lead to a very expensive veterinary bill or death to the pet.  This would not be a well-received gift!

If you are determined to give a pet as a gift this holiday season, consider giving the supplies and an “I OWE YOU” card for the pet.  Giving the pet this way, you allow the recipient to decide if they are ready for the responsibility of having a pet.  If they decide they do want the pet, they can bring the pet into the home when things are quieter.  If they don’t want the pet, be sure to keep the receipt for the pet supplies and honor the decision that a pet is not what the recipient wants or needs at this time.

It is important to consider both the pet and the recipient when considering giving a pet as a gift.    If you must give a pet as a holiday gift this season, consider giving a stuffed animal rather than a live one!