Adopting a pet over the holiday beats buying a pet!

The thought of a new pet at any time of year is exciting, but there’s a special anticipation that comes with this idea during the holiday season. Surprising a friend, family member, or loved one with a bundle of furry joy can carry us away all too easily, but the surprise may backfire if we don’t adequately prepare for a gift of this magnitude.

What do you need to know when adopting a pet for the holidays? Stay tuned as Maywood Veterinary Clinic walks you through the basics.

First Things First

At the holidays, it might seem natural to give a pet as a present. Pets are a lot of responsibility and take a lot of attention, daily care, time, and money, however, and without preparation and planning, pets given as gifts at any time of the year risk being returned. Even worse, you may unintentionally burden the recipient with an unwanted responsibility if you don’t plan ahead – even if they are the most dedicated animal lover.

So, first things first. Does the recipient even want a pet? As simple as it sounds, it may be best to actually ask. Sure, you may blow the surprise, but that may be better than giving an unwanted gift.

Adopting a Pet for the Holidays

Remember that pet ownership is personal. Each species and breed of pet is different, and each pet has its own unique personality. Pets have different needs and care requirements, behaviors, and tendencies. It’s important to match a pet with her new person carefully. Here are some tips.

If the new owner will be a child, know that the ASPCA recommends waiting until children are 10 -13 years old before they are ready for the responsibility of a pet. An adult in the household also needs to be fully committed to caring for the pet, as children should not be expected to take complete ownership responsibility (parents need to take the pet to the veterinarian, for example).

Getting a puppy or a kitten during the holiday season is a big undertaking. Baby animals are a lot of work, and so consider waiting to add a puppy or kitten to the family at another time of year. Adult animals have fully formed personalities and can be more easily and perfectly matched to a new pet parent. Which brings us to…

Animal shelters are overflowing with wonderful, socialized, and beautiful pets that are waiting for their forever homes. During the holidays, if you’re getting a new pet, please consider adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue organization, instead of shopping for a pet. Shelter staff know the animals in their care well, and you’ll have a wonderful opportunity to be matched with the perfect pet for you.

Many purebred pets are surrendered to shelters, so if you’re looking for a specific breed, you may find one there or at a breed-specific rescue organization. And even better, you’ll know that during holiday time, you gave back by saving a life and adding an amazing new friend to your home or the home of a loved one.

How to Wrap Up Excitement

So, you’ve determined that you’re ready for a pet, you know you want to adopt from the local shelter, and you are ready to figure out how to give the gift of love. Although unwrapping a box with holes in it may be adorable, it’s a bad idea for everyone. Instead of this, give your family or loved one an even better present: a trip to the shelter to pick out their perfect companion. Here’s how to wrap up excitement when you’re adopting a pet:

  • Wrap up a stuffed animal in the likeness of the pet species (or even breed) you’ve chosen. Add a note with a homemade gift certificate to the local shelter for the pet of your dreams.
  • Arrange items you’ll need to care for your pet (such as collar, leash, toys, food bowls, treats, toothbrush and paste, or a warm pet bed) in a festive basket or gift bag.
  • Create and color a gift certificate for wellness care, dental cleaning, or other preventive medical care.
  • Give learning tools such as books, magazines and videos that teach how to care for your new pet. You could also give a gift certificate for puppy training classes or the like.

A Home For The Holidays

One last thought about getting a pet for the holidays. These are often busy and hectic times of year. New pets, no matter their age, take time to acclimate to new surroundings and new routines. A busy holiday season may be a stressful time to take in a new pet, if your schedule is already packed with travel, parties, and family gatherings.

Instead, consider wrapping up one of the special gifts above and waiting a couple of weeks until the holiday excitement has died down and a new pet can come in to a calmer environment.

Another great option is to foster a pet before commiting. This allows you and your family to gradually ease into the responsibility of pet ownership, and gives a shelter pet a respite from shelter life. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Have you ever gotten a pet for the holidays? What are your tips? If you have any questions or concerns, please call us. We’re here to help!