Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

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Consult the eventual recipient first

The element of surprise is part of what makes the holiday season of giving so special, and few things may inspire more enthusiastic responses than new pets under the tree. But however appealing you may find such reactions, it’s still best to first consult the intended recipient before buying or adopting the pet.

Pets make wonderful additions to a home, but some people may be allergic to certain animals or simply not have the time or energy to devote to pet ownership. No one wants to return an animal to a kennel, and forcing a loved one to take on the unwanted responsibility of pet ownership does not make much of a gift.

Let the recipient choose the pet

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Aunts or uncles may think a cute puppy is an ideal holiday gift for their nieces and nephews, but it’s best to let those youngsters’ parents choose the pet rather than going it alone. Once mom and dad have given you the greenlight to gift their kids a pet, let them decide which type of pet will become the newest member of their households.

Parents may feel their children are not ready to handle the significant responsibility of dog ownership, and they may prefer their kids first receive a more low-maintenance pet, such as a fish.

Pay for everything

Pets are expensive, even those that are adopted from nearby shelters. Cats and dogs adopted from local shelters or even animals bought directly from breeders will need some immediate medical care, including shots and initial examinations at the veterinarian’s office, as well as food, dishes, leashes (if giving a dog), and bedding.

When giving pets as a gift, the giver should fit the bill for these additional expenses, which can be significant. Recipients may not be able to afford these additional expenses, especially during the holiday season, nor did they ask to take on such a financial burden. So when giving pets as gifts you should be capable of handling the oft-overlooked costs of adopting or buying a new pet.

Be willing to take the pet

Some households simply are not a good match for pets. Those looking to give pets as holiday gifts should be willing to take the pet into their own homes if things are not working out with the recipient. This does not mean gift-givers have to keep the pet forever, but they should be willing to temporarily care for the animal until it finds a new home.

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