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Do Pets Make Good Gifts?

“Dogs are a man’s best friend” is the classic saying so it seems like they would make the best gifts. But do they? 

We connected with veterinarian Dr. Janice Hung from Arnold Crescent Animal Hospital in Richmond Hill to get her expert take on whether pets make a good gift. 

Overall, they CAN make a good gift but before considering it for a special someone, make sure it's the right fit. 

What are the key considerations when contemplating giving a pet as a gift?


Giving someone the gift of a new pet can be a very personal choice. Some of the key factors to consider include routine expenses such as vaccinations and emergency expenses if the pet becomes ill. Pets are a wonderful addition to the family but also require time and attention. The first year for a new pet owner can be expensive. Whether you chose a kitten or a puppy, they typically need three sets of the vaccinations, deworming, and parasite prevention (for fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, heartworm, etc.) and to be spayed (females) or neutered (males). It is also important to work on training to make sure the new pet develops good manners. You may also wish to consider microchipping them so they have permanent identification in the event they get lost or stolen. We should also consider how much time a person is willing to devote to the care of their new pet. Cats are more independent and require less of a time commitment. Daily feeding, fresh water, clean litter, and a minimum of 15 minutes of regular structured play or attention is all they need. A dog will require a bit more other than food and water. They need to be well-socialized so they are comfortable in various environments and they need to know some very basic commands, such as “come”, “sit”, “down” and “stay”.


What are the reasons you would not give a pet as a gift?


A pet may not be a great gift for people that are not able to budget financially for the routine or emergency expenses. It is important to make sure that new pet owners consider pet insurance or have a backup fund in case of emergencies to ensure the pet is well cared for. We also have to consider the time commitment as cats and dogs can be a 10 – 20-year obligation. Plus, keep in mind that people may have certain allergies to consider when picking a new pet. Dogs will also require a bit more space compared to a cat.


Should you get the gift recipient's permission before buying the pet [or are total surprises good]? 


Owning a pet is a very personal decision so I would absolutely recommend getting consent prior to giving a pet as a gift due to the long-term responsibility.


Have you personally experienced situations of 'pet-gifting' gone wrong? (returning pets/unable to take care of them, etc.?)


We have seen some “gifts” that unfortunately have gone wrong. Most people do plan for routine expenses but when the unexpected happens, they may not have the financial means to budget for it. In many situations, the illness or injury is treatable but can get very expensive. When pet owners cannot afford the treatment, we have had to facilitate surrendering the pet to a rescue or another family that can fund the proper treatment.

Owning a pet is an amazing experience but when considering a pet as a gift, make sure the person you’re gifting it to is ready and able to take on the responsibility.

Authored by Anasofia Heilbron

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