Christmas Pets

Are you thinking that you want a new pet for Christmas? Have you been begging Mom and Dad for that new puppy or kitten? How about a bird, or a snake, or a little Habitrail cage with a hamster within? If you plan to give a pet to someone this holiday season, or if you are hoping that Santa Claus is going to bring you one, make sure you know what you are getting into first.

The very first thing you need to do is MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON RECEIVING THE PET WANTS ONE! I know Grandma’s house has been quiet since old Fluffy died, but she may not be ready for a new poodle puppy yet, and at her age, she may not be able to take care of it. Last time she got a puppy, she was 60; now she is 78 and living on a fixed income. Also make sure that the recipient is financially able to provide for the new pet. Things may be sad around little Johnny’s house since Skippy got hit by a car, but Johnny’s mom is a single mother working two jobs, and they really can’t afford a new dog right now.

The next thing that you need to know is that every animal has needs that must be met. If you give someone a pet bird or lizard, remember that you will probably also need to give them a cage, light, toys, heat source, substrate, food and everything else that they will need to care for it. And don’t forget the most important necessity for owning a pet: knowledge. Make sure that your giftee also receives the information that they need to care for that pet properly. Its not really fair to give someone a pet turtle, only to have it die of metabolic bone disease three months later because they were feeding it wrong or they didn’t have the right light source.

Now, for that cute little puppy or kitten that shows up under your tree with a ribbon around its neck. It’s going to need some vaccinations, deworming and maybe a spay or neuter in the near future. These medical needs can add up to several hundred dollars in the first few months of its life. If you are the giver, make sure that the recipient can provide this for their new pet, and if you can help out financially, please do. If you are the recipient, remember that you need to do all of this stuff. If the person who gave the pet to you can help you out with it, great! If not, remember that it is still your responsibility.

The last thing that you must know is that if you are not financially, physically or socially able to care for the pet that has been given to you, make sure that decline the gift or return it to the person who gave it to you. And those of you who give a pet should be prepared to take it back if necessary. Most animals that are going to be purchased or adopted as gift are usually going to be acquired very near the holiday (would you really want to feed and care for a puppy for three weeks, just to have to give it up?) Most breeders, adoption centers, pet stores and the like have a return policy, and these tend to be a bit more liberal around the holidays. I shudder at the thought of puppies and kittens winding up in shelters or on the street because they were not wanted or could not be cared for.

Just remember to give responsibly. A new pet may be the greatest gift that your friend or loved one has ever received. It may also be the worst. And don’t forget to put some air holes in the box!

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