If you are an animal lover, it can be tempting to share that love with others in your life by giving a pet as a gift. Doing so, however, might end up causing more harm than good in the long run. A gift recipient might not want a pet or might not be able to properly care for one.

With the holiday season just around the corner, here are a few things to consider as you decide whether to give a pet as a gift.

A Pet-Friendly Lifestyle

Before you decide to give a pet as a gift, you should determine whether the recipient is interested in becoming a pet owner. You’ll also need to assess whether their lifestyle can support a new addition. This can happen directly if the gift is not a surprise, and more discreetly if it will be a surprise.

Either way, if you hear that the person is not interested in caring for a pet, you should not get one for them — no matter how good you think the idea is!  The result won’t turn out well for the gift recipient or the new pet.

Once you identify that someone is open to owning a pet, you need to consider whether their lifestyle can support one. Do they travel a lot? Have kids or other demands on their time? Can they afford the cost of food, health care and other supplies? Is their home pet friendly?

You might not know or learn the answers to all of these questions. Gather as much information as you can before making a decision on a gift. The answers can also help you decide what type of pet might be a good fit.

For example, someone might express an interest in a large dog when their lifestyle suggests that a small dog or cat might be a better match. Weigh these factors carefully to ensure your gift will be right for the pet and its owner.

The “Return” Policy

Even if you do your homework ahead of time, there are always things you can’t plan for. If you sense that the person is not happy with the gift, let them know what their options are.

However, these returns are not as common as you might expect. A  2013 ASPCA survey found that more than 75% of pets given as gifts were still in their homes. The findings suggest that with a little planning, a pet can make a great gift that will bring its recipient love and joy for years to come. 

Finally, don’t forget about services like pet sitting and dog walking that you can include as part of the gift. These extras will help the new pet owner settle into a routine and ensure that the pet receives the care it needs. Contact us to learn more about gift packages.