Friday, December 12, 2014

Pets do not make good surprise gifts

If you're wondering what to give someone for Christmas and think a kitten, puppy, rabbit, hamster, ferret, guinea pig, or other animal would be a great idea, pause and think about it some more. Bringing a pet into a family can bring immense joy, but pets require commitment.

Every pet deserves a good home where they are loved and receive proper care.

If you want to surprise your own children with a pet, be aware that you as an adult will have the final responsibility to care for it. That includes making sure the children respect it and aren't too rough with it.

If you want to surprise someone else's child with a pet, discuss with the adults in the family and make sure everyone's on the same page.

Even if all the adults in the family are on the same page, Christmas morning isn't the best time a year to get a new pet. Everyone's tearing into gifts, there are loud toys, potentially dangerous ribbons everywhere, chocolate, and general chaos.

A new pet needs to land in calm environment where he or she can feel safe. You don't want a frightened, cowering animal that is overwhelmed by all the sudden attention, children squealing with excitement, and almost battling each other to hold it.

Here are some important things to consider before getting a pet:

  • Different animals have different tempers and needs. Research the type of pet you're considering, and make sure the animal is right for your family. If you're getting a dog, research breeds and get a breed that fits your lifestyle.
  • Do you have enough space? Enough money to get the equipment you need?
  • Are you prepared for a lifetime commitment? Even small pets like guinea pigs can live for five years. Dogs can live for fifteen years, and some other types of pets live for decades. If you can't deal with someone being dependent on you every day for that amount of time, don't get a pet.
  • All pets require attention, care, and training. Discuss the pet's schedule with the family.
  • If you're getting a dog, he or she will need walks every day. Puppies need to go out every time they eat, sleep, or play - even if it's in the middle of your favorite TV show.
  • Make a budget. Include food, toys, treats, vet costs, kitty litter, straw, and whatever else your new pet will need.
  • Plan for emergencies. Who can care for your pet if everyone in your family needs to travel somewhere? Create an emergency fund in case something happens and your pet needs urgent care.
  • A child should not be sole caretaker of a pet. As an adult, the pet is your responsibility.
Have you ever given someone a pet as a present? Did it turn out well? Is there something you as a pet owner wish you would have known before getting your pet?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

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