Lifestyle

Think twice before you pick a pet

To the millions of pet owners across the globe, pets are more than just furry friends around the house. Pets put many people in a good mood and can also make for a valuable addition to families with children, instilling a sense of responsibility in kids they might otherwise never learn.

But pets are also a very personal choice. Such a reality makes giving a pet as a present during the holiday season a difficult proposition – one that requires careful consideration of the pros and cons before making a final decision.

The Pros

• Companionship: Pets make fine companions, and many people think giving a pet as a present during the holiday season is a great way to put a smile on a lonely friend or relative’s face. However, when giving a pet in the hopes it will provide companionship, be sure to find a pet that’s known for liking attention, such as a golden retriever, and not a pet that doesn’t require much care or appreciate the attention.

• The surprise element: Often, when a family pet dies it takes awhile before the family is ready to get a new pet. However, if sufficient time has elapsed, the surprise element of a new pet at the holidays can make it one of the more memorable holidays ever.

The same can be said when giving a child their first pet. For moms and dads who have decided the kids are ready for their first pet, the holidays make a great time to surprise them with a Fido or Morris of their own.

• Cost: Particularly in the current economy, not all families can afford to adopt or buy a new pet. While they might be able to afford to feed and care for a pet, the initial costs (some adoptions can cost several hundred dollars) might be well beyond their budget. For gift givers who can afford the costs of adoption or the purchase price from a breeder, giving a pet can be a gift the family will greatly appreciate.

The Cons

• Personal choice: Pets don’t take long to become a member of the family. And that’s often because pets are a deeply personal choice made by the pet owner and his or her family. Giving a pet as a gift might be a nice gesture, but many people would prefer to pick their own pets.

• Timing: Not all families are ready for a pet. Even parents who want to add a pet to their home should consider if the timing is right. Are kids ready for the responsibility of a pet? Is the family ready to add another member?

Timing should also be a consideration for those thinking of giving a pet to someone they don’t live with. It might be a nice gesture to give newlywed friends a pet, but they might also be trying to have a baby and might not have the time to care for a pet.

• Allergies and additional health considerations: Not everyone can have a pet in their home. Many people are allergic to animals. It could prove a disaster to give a kitten to someone who is highly allergic to cats. Shoppers who are unsure if a friend or loved one has a pet allergy should avoid giving a pet as a present.

In addition to pet allergies, another medical concern is some people might not be physically capable of caring for a pet. Dogs, for instance, need to be taken on daily walks or, at the very least, taken outside to relieve themselves. What’s more, training a puppy is no small task. If a friend or family member does not appear capable of caring for a pet, consider a different gift.

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