Nothing says “happiness on earth” quite like Christmas AND a new pet; especially when that new pet is just a wee one! While those of us in veterinary medicine generally tend to discourage giving pets as presents (more on that later), it’s hard to deny that involuntary joy that follows a kitten with a bow, so here are some tips on how to make a great gift giving decision:
*Make sure that a responsible adult has agreed to the next 8-22yrs of pet care. Getting that Persian for little Johnny is very sweet, but will Johnny be bringing it to college with him? And who will pay the veterinary bills in the meantime, not to mention scoop the litterbox?
*If you’re going to give a pet as present, make sure that the recipient actually WANTS a pet and understands the commitment involved. Pets do not make good re-gifts!
*Have a game plan! The best pets are given with instructions. Consider speaking with a veterinarian about what that pet will need in its first year and provide clear information for the new owners. Another option is to schedule the pets first appointment for them and provide them with a gift card for veterinary services.
*Consider the breed. A mastiff puppy is irresistible….but probably not the ideal choice for your grandmother. A teacup Chihuahua is super cute, but not very hardy if you’ve got toddlers . PLEASE research the pro’s and con’s of each breed that you consider and prevent future broken hearts.
*Don’t wrap the puppy! I know, I saw “Lady and the Tramp” too and she seemed just fine; but the truth is, boxing a live animal takes care and experience (and really, it’s a puppy, who cares about a bow!).
*When in doubt, ADOPT! Perhaps the BEST way to give a Christmas puppy or kitten (or adult) is to wrap a homemade voucher for a local animal shelter. This gives the new owner the opportunity to research and meet their new pet before making a lifetime commitment . If you MUST have that purebred pet, please know where it comes from. Only work with reputable breeders and make absolutely certain that your puppy or kitten comes with a signed Health Certificate; it’s the law.