Choosing a Pet as a Gift

Here are some important things to consider before you purchase the pet.

With Christmas just around the corner, you may have discovered a pet of some kind on that wish list that your child keeps reminding you about. Right now may be the last time you are able to think carefully and without pressure about this situation, so it is the best time to decide if this wish is one that is going to be fulfilled now or one that may just have to wait for a little while. This decision is one that requires a lot of thought, since returning a pet is usually not an option and reselling the pet is not only hard on you and your children, but it’s difficult and confusing for the animal too.

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What costs are involved?

Because the actual purchase of the pet and necessary supplies can run into quite a bit of money, you must decide if you're ready financially to support a pet. Make sure you take into consideration the following expenses:

  • Routine Veterinary costs for shots and annual examinations

  • Spaying or neutering costs

  • Housing

  • Nutritional needs

  • Grooming (any special requirements depending on breed)

  • Toys

  • Kennel costs if you do not wish to travel with your pet

You also need to determine whether or not you have enough time to give the new pet ample attention and care. This means not only the children, but yourself as well, since caring properly for a pet is something that will need to be taught, and will require some substantial time and patience. Once the newness of this type of gift wears off, someone is still going to have a time commitment toward the new family member. Unlike the toy that gets broken or the jeans that are soon outgrown, this new pet (regardless of the what type it is dog, fish , bird, etc.) is going to require attention for a long time.

The amount of space you have is also a factor that will impact your decision. Is there room in your household for this pet? Some animals require minimal space, while others require a lot of space as they grow. In addition to housing, large animals will need a large area to run. You need to decide if you have sufficient room for the pet that you're choosing.

If you are renting, does your landlord permit animals and will he require an extra deposit to cover the pet? Please check this out ahead of time - purchasing the pet and then pressuring the landlord is not fair and will only cause unnecessary friction and stress in the end. This may damage your chances for renewing your lease agreement too. Not everyone loves pets and as a tenant, you are income in a business arrangement, it is not personal.

Another thing to consider is the impact the new pet may have on the health of your family. Will this pet cause anyone who has allergies to suffer? If you are unsure, you can test this by visiting people with the same type of pet you are considering. You should also consult with your family physician if this may be an issue for family members with special conditions.

If you have taken all these factors into consideration and have come to the decision that you will fill this wish, what next? Read! Do as much preliminary research as you can find on the breed you have chosen and any special dietary needs, housing requirements and most importantly its temperament and expected behavior around children and with strangers. Not every breed fits every family. This is very important so make sure you learn as much as you can. If you are still unsure, any Veterinarian in your area will be happy to help you decide which breed works best for you.

If you should choose a special or unusual breed, make sure you have a veterinarian in your area who specializes in that particular breed. Not all veterinarians know how to treat all breeds. Many of them specialize in certain breeds only; but will be able to refer you to another veterinarian who can help you.

Before you go to purchase your pet, check it out FIRST without the children. Once they see a puppy they will not care or understand why they cannot take it home immediately. Be patient and selective when searching for the right pet; do not take the first animal you see. Animals have personalities just like people so ask questions and find out as much as you can about the animal, the facility and its suppliers and the quality and care they exhibit. Doing this without the children will reduce the stress and pressure and allow you to make the best choice, or even wait if you decide this may not be the best time for a new pet. Another reason to leave the children at home is that it doesn't allow the seller to use the children as a pawn or pressure tactic to make you purchase the pet immediately.

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When do I give this gift?

The next step is to buy all the supplies for your pet that you want or need and give these to the children for Christmas. Reserve buying the pet until sometime after Christmas; you will find this a lot less stressful on you, the new pet, and the children, plus this will give them a chance to take part in picking out their new friend. There are only a couple of benefits for getting the pet and giving it Christmas morning, while there is a whole list of reasons why its better to wait.

Giving Pet Christmas Day:

  • The surprise element

  • No fighting over which one to take

Giving Pet After Christmas:

  • You don't have to find a place to keep the pet until Christmas morning.

  • Children can help pick out which pet to make their new friend.

  • You can see how well the new pet and children interact together before making the final purchase.

  • No stress of housebreaking during holidays (if the pet is a dog).

  • No worries if relatives or out-of-town visitors have allergies.

  • No figuring out what to do with the new pet while people visit or where to put pet while you go visiting.

  • Many Breeders breed for the seasonal spontaneous buyers often resulting in poorer quality pets with more health problems.

  • Prices will drop after the holidays, just like other items do.

  • It's less stressful on your pet to be introduced to a "normal routine" as opposed to hectic holiday schedules and heavier amounts of activity.

  • You will have more time to devote to making everyone comfortable with the new addition in a relaxed atmosphere, as well as fully explaining ALL the care needed for the new pet.

  • The new pet is less likely to be cast aside like the rest of the gifts are explored and played with.

A pet can be a wonderful gift for anyone, and will surely bring lots of smiles and happiness. Just remember - NEVER spontaneously decide to purchase a pet as a gift - it's not fair to anyone involved.

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