Giving Pets as Gifts: 5 Things to Consider
By: Abby Marshall | Reviewed by Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Mar 30, 2018
Studies have shown that having pets in our lives contributes to good physical and mental health. Living with dogs and cats have been shown to reduce stress, and the physical activity that accompanies playing with or walking a pet can reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and help prevent cardiovascular disease.
It stands to reason that you might want to gift a pet to someone you love. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, as research done by the ASPCA has shown that “there is no correlation between getting an animal as a gift and an owner’s love and attachment to the pet…and no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as gifts.” However, before you go out and adopt a furry creature on your loved one’s behalf, here are some things to consider prior to giving pets as gifts.
1. Does the Recipient Want a Pet?
Before giving a pet as a gift, give serious thought to whether the recipient even wants one. Perhaps the person is getting over the death of one animal and isn’t quite ready for another. Or perhaps the receiver has never had a pet and simply isn’t interested in adopting one. Talk to the individual and make sure a new family member is part of his or her future plans.
Another thing to consider is whether the recipient’s family wants a new pet. This may be especially applicable in the case of a child. While your niece or grandson may be on cloud nine when you present a new puppy, what will the child’s parents think of your gift? Are they prepared to do most of the work required to care for the new creature? Pets are not presents for someone who answers no to these questions.
2. Can the Recipient Afford to Care for a Pet?
Pets aren’t cheap, and once you hand over your gift, the recipient is on the hook for food, supplies, medical care, and training. Perhaps these things aren’t in the individual’s budget, or maybe paying for a pet’s care isn’t something the person is willing to do. Although this may be a sensitive subject, ensure that the pet’s new owner has the funds to adequately take care of his or her new friend.
3. Does the Recipient Have Time for a Pet?
Animals require quite a bit of care, and dogs in particular need walks, training, and special attention. If the recipient works all day outside the home or travels frequently, it might not be the right time to get that person a new pet. Ensure your loved one has the time to devote to the creature before gifting one.
4. Are There Other Pets in the Recipient’s Household?
Introducing a new furry friend to an established one takes time and patience, and some animals are simply better as “only fur-children.” Before gifting a pet, make sure you are familiar with the personalities of any existing animals in the household and discuss the situation with the new owner to ensure all creatures will get along.
5. Alternatives to Gifting a Pet
If you’re at all unsure about presenting your loved one with a new pet, there are alternatives. Think about offering a gift certificate to your local shelter so the person can adopt a pet when he or she is ready. Arrange with a rescue organization for your loved one to meet any animals in its care, and offer to pay adoption fees should the recipient find a new friend. Or simply donate to a shelter or other pet welfare organization on the individual’s behalf.
Pets make wonderful friends and companions, but before giving one as a gift, think about whether it’s a good idea. If your loved one is ready for a new friend and has the time and resources to devote to its care, contributing to that person’s health and happiness can be a wonderful thing.
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