With the holiday season right around the corner, many people are searching for the perfect gift for their loved ones. While pets may look absolutely adorable under a Christmas tree or be extra kissable by the Mistletoe, they are not always the best gift. There are several things you really need to consider before giving a pet as a present.

Does the person want a pet? Pets cannot be easily returned like an ugly sweater or unwanted toy. Because pets vary so widely in personality, ages, breeds, etc it is vital to understand what someone is looking for (if they are looking) in a pet. Remember that a pet is a lifetime commitment that can last 15-18 years. It is important the person is ready for this. 

Does the person have time for a pet? Pets are a lot of work. Puppies need to be housebroken and trained, a lengthy process that requires a lot of time and patience. Someone that is working 10 hour days may not be ready for the responsibilities of a puppy. Kittens will also need socialization and play time to keep them happy and healthy. 

Can they financially support a pet? According to the ASPCA, the average cost of owning a cat per year is $1,035, the average cost of owning a small dog is $1,314 per year and the average cost to own a large dog is $1,843 per year. Pets are a financial investment. They will need food, litter, and regular vet care throughout their lifetime. 

Have they met the pet? Bonding with a pet can be very personal. Not every person will connect with every dog or cat. Some people want an active dog to go running or be outside with, while others may want a cozy lap cat to cuddle up with at night. It is important for a person to have met a pet to ensure they are a good fit for their lifestyle. 

So, how can you incorporate pets into the holiday season? 

Offer to take them to get a pet. A gift doesn’t always have to be a surprise. If you know the person you want to give a pet to is ready for a new companion, offer to go with them to get their new pet. You get to see the joy in their face when they meet their new fur-ever buddy and will know it is the right fit for them.

Volunteer at an animal shelter together. Ask them to volunteer with you. It may not be the right time in their life to add a pet to their home. Volunteering allows them face-to-face interaction with animals without the commitment of bringing home a pet.  

Talk to them about fostering. Maybe it isn’t the right time to get a pet, but maybe it is. Fostering is a great opportunity to find out if they have the time and means to care for a pet. Plus, they may just fall in love with their foster and become another foster success story. 

However you choose to spend the holidays with pets, it’s important to consider the pet’s needs for their lifetime. Happy Holidays!