When someone films their loved one getting a surprise puppy or kitten, it usually goes viral. People love the idea of taking off a blindfold to see their new furry best friend, but it's not always a good idea. It sounds nice, but avoid buying pets as gifts or they could get hurt.
These are just a few of the reasons why pets aren't good holiday or birthday gifts. Consider these factors before heading to the local animal shelter or pet store. You'll find the best present when you weigh everyone's needs and capabilities.
1. They require commitment,
Pets need their human companion to look out for them every day. Even after completing house training or settling into a routine, that new pet will stick around for years. They might even live for over a decade. That's a long-term commitment no one should sign up for because of a surprise.
Talk with your loved one about if they're ready for years of daily care and vet visits before bringing an animal home. If they don't want that level of commitment, give them a new plant instead.
2. They might get stressed.
If you couldn't speak with the people around you and didn't know where you were, your stress would skyrocket. Small animals feel this way while getting used to a new home. Doing this while extended family and friends visit for a birthday party or the holidays makes their environment even more chaotic.
Tiny pets like hamsters manifest stress in different ways that could lead to sudden death. It's safer to bring a pet home when their new house is calm and quiet. They'll explore without fear and be better off for it.
3. They need training.
Bigger pets require training to be good indoor companions. Their new owner will have to train them to be nice to strangers and avoid relieving themselves on the carpet. Dogs need more training than most. Ignored dogs can act out in aggression, leading to over 14,000 annual hospitalizations from dog bites each year. When your loved one has time for training, their new pet will be a happier and safer addition to their home.
4. They should have supervision.
Does your friend or family member have the time to supervise their new pet? Supervision could save their pet from hurting themselves, especially around the holidays. Animals like to chew on things, like ornaments and decor. Cats will climb into Christmas trees and potentially knock them over.
Someone who doesn't have the time or ability to supervise their pet shouldn't get one as a gift. They need to bond with their new animal to learn their personality and habits. Afterward, it's much easier to survive the holiday season without accidents or trips to the emergency vet clinic.
5. They’re a big responsibility.
People often get family pets to teach their kids about responsibility. Even if those kids have spent months promising to take care of their new fish or gerbil, they'll likely have a short attention span for necessary daily care. Young kids won't be up to the task, so the parents will have to add animal care to the responsibilities they already juggle.
Parents or caregivers need time to consider if they're the right home for an animal. Surprising them with a pet will remove this critical period where they can weigh their schedules and determine how well they can take care of a new addition.
6. They’re not a one-time purchase.
Buying an animal isn't a one-time purchase. Your gift will come with a permanent price tag. The average cost of owning an animal adds up to $500 each year and can cost more, depending on where your loved ones live and if health complications occur.
Even small animals require a budget. Litter, food and regular medication could become too expensive in the long run. Anyone who wants a pet should think critically about their budget and if they can afford to give an animal the care they deserve.