Think Twice Before Gifting A Pet This Holiday

By Dr. Karen Farnan, Veterinarian

Around the holidays many people consider giving a puppy or kitten, dog or cat to someone as a gift.  Who wouldn’t appreciate a little bundle of joy, right?  Well, not necessarily…

One of my friends is a single mom with a 5-year-old son.  Her sister gave the son (her nephew) an Akita puppy for Christmas one year because it was so cute in the pet store, and she felt it was good for a child to grow up with a dog.  Now, the sister does not live in the same house and would not be involved with the care of the dog.

This situation is a good example of many of the problems associated with gifting a pet.  A surprise pet gift is NOT a good idea.  You have to make sure the pet is truly wanted.  When you choose a pet, you are accepting responsibility for the health and welfare of another living thing and promising to care for them their entire life.  A 5-year-old is not old enough to accept this responsibility on his own, therefore the responsibility is on the mother, who in this case did not choose the time and financial commitment associated with a puppy. 

Never buy a pet on impulse!  The type of pet should be the choice of the owner, involving a lot of careful consideration.  An Akita is not a good breed choice for children due to some aggressive tendencies.  It is also a large, very furry dog, needing plenty of exercise and grooming.  So, for this family it was not a good fit. 

The holidays in general are a busy time with family and friends, food and decorations.  Bringing a new puppy or kitten into a home has extra challenges to keep them safe, and make sure they get the attention they need during such a busy time.  They may be scared by all the excitement as well.  Potty training a puppy in the winter can be difficult, since they can be inhibited by the cold.

So, think twice before giving a pet to someone as a gift, and call us if you have any questions, we are always here to help you at Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital.

Happy Holidays!

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