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10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Give a Pet as a Christmas Gift

Updated on December 16, 2015
Pets are individuals, not gifts.
Pets are individuals, not gifts. | Source

Adding a companion animal to your family is an exciting time. Everyone is excited to pick a name, set out their new family member’s toys, and see their new companion explore the house for the first time. While adding a pet is an exciting time for your family, it is a life changing and long term decision that should not be entered into lightly. Bringing a pet into your home, whether it be a reptile, cat, dog, or any other creature, should be something that is only done after careful consideration regarding your family’s needs, wants, and ability level when it comes to caring for a pet. While the holiday season is a time when giving gifts can bring great joy to families, it is not typically the best time to introduce a pet to a family. While there are some great Black Friday and holiday season discounts on adoption fees through animal shelters, families should only take advantage of these discounts if they are already in a place where adding a pet fits into their lives. Simply adopting or buying a pet for the sake of a gift doesn’t send the right message to your kids, it makes the pet seem like a disposable item rather than a part of the family. If you’ve been thinking about giving your kids a pet for Christmas, here are ten of the top reasons why you should reconsider your gift idea.

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10. Peer Pressure

It doesn’t matter how long your kids have been begging you to get them a cat or how often they play with your neighbor’s dog, giving into the temptation to gift a pet for Christmas just because your kids promised to take care of it is setting yourself up for trouble. Visiting with friends or family members who have pets and having a pet in your own home are completely different. Much like the difference between babysitting (or pet siting) and having a baby (or pet), the 24/7/365 commitment that having a pet is something that should only be entertained when your family is ready for a pet, not when everyone else thinks you should have one.


Lizards and other exotic pets can carry harmful germs.
Lizards and other exotic pets can carry harmful germs. | Source

9. Exotic Animals Are Wild Animals

While it should come as a no brainer to check that you are able to have the pet you desire in your home before bringing the pet into your family’s lives, this is a step in the pet selection process that can easily be overlooked. If you are looking into an untraditional pet, like a lizard or snake, you will need to check that your state even allows the ownership of such an animal. The Wall Street Journal Online has compiled this convenient chart that lists what types of animals are allowed in each state. However, wild animals and large exotic animals should never be considered as a pet. Even if your state allows chimps or other exotic animals, these animals are not domesticated and therefore are never a good choice to give your kids as gift. Take caution with considering less dangerous exotic animals as pets for Christmas gifts like lizards as well, as the Center for Disease Control notes that many of these exotic creatures can carry infectious diseases and germs that could get your kids sick.


A Cockapoo
A Cockapoo | Source

8. Pets are Trendy

Trendy items are always a hit during the holiday season. There are always new “must have” toys, gadgets, and other items that carry the allure of being elite and exotic. Trendy pets are no exception. With the growing popularity of “designer dogs” (where two breeds are combined to create a new and exotic sort of dog), it is easy to fall into the trap of getting a pet just because of all the promised traits it comes with. The problem with going off these sales pitches for a pet is that each animal is an individual. While a specific type of pet may have the same general traits, there is no guarantee that your family’s pet will act as the seller has promised. Don’t let the sales pitch fool you, an animal is still an individual that deserves to be treated with respect.


Pets are individuals, not items.
Pets are individuals, not items. | Source

7. Holiday Pricing at Pet Stores

One of the greatest problems with purchasing pets from a pet store or other supplier that is not an animal shelter is that these animals are treated like items rather than living beings. Animals who are at a pet store and are presented with a discounted price in the name of the holiday season may be healthy, but they are viewed by the store as something to sell quickly in order to make room for new inventory (pets). While ethical animal shelters are starting to jump on the trend of offering discounts on adoption fees for Black Friday and other popular shopping weekends, a discounted cost alone is not a reason to bring a new pet into your home for Christmas.


Your pet needs to fit with your family.
Your pet needs to fit with your family. | Source

6. You Didn’t Research the Pet

Jumping on the chance to get a pet just to fulfill the idea of seeing the joy on your kids faces when they realize they have a new companion waiting by the tree on Christmas morning can mean you don’t pick the right pet for your family. While the Border Collie puppy is adorable and energetic, if you don’t have ample room for your dog to roam and herd, it won’t be the right fit for your family. You should introduce family pets when it is going to be a good fit for both your family and the animal. It isn’t fair to anyone to take home a pet when you haven’t considered whether or not that pet will be a good fit for your family.


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5. Illnesses are Common in Winter Months

Adopting a pet in the midst of cold and flu season can potentially set you up for long months of frustration. House training a new pet while coping with a cold or the flu will only make caring for and adapting to your new pet more stressful on you and your pet. If your kids are sick, they’re not going to be motivated to help care for your new companion. While unexpected illnesses can occur at any time of year, be mindful of the health of your family before bringing a new pet into the mix during the colder winter months to avoid undue stress from being ill, caring for a new pet, and the chaos of the holiday season.

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4. Vacations Don't Last

A pet sounds great when you are home often and don’t have much to do, but what about when your kids holiday break is over and everyone is back to their usual routine? Will your new pet fair well with the adjustment from having everyone (or most everyone) home all the time to give them attention to not having anyone around (or in and out) for hours at a time? What will happen when you go on a vacation and can’t bring your pet with you? These questions need to be thought through before you take in a new companion animal to ensure everyone is treated properly no matter what is going on in your lives.


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3. You're Feeling Impulsive

While it can be hard to resist the allure of seeing the pure delight on your child’s face when they see their new furry friend for the first time, don't give into the temptation and treat your next pet as a gift. While adding a pet to your family is a precious occasion, it is not a gift. The impulsive nature of buying a pet on a whim or as a gift allows you to view your new pet as something replaceable rather than an individual being that deserves respect. Let your excitement fuel you to research the type of pet you want to bring into your family and find the best fit for your home before committing to having a pet prematurely.


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2. Pets are Expensive

While some pets have low key needs when it comes to maintenance and care, over their lifetime, pets are an expensive commitment. Like having a child, a pet requires routine medical visits, vaccinations, grooming, food, shelter, toys, and affection. If your family doesn’t consider all the potential expenses that come with having a pet before your pet is brought home, it could cause friction or even resentment toward the animal simply for having needs that weren’t taken into consideration, which isn't fair to your pet. With the mounting stress of buying the perfect gift for your kids, don’t add on the stress of adding a pet into the mix by making the decision to gift a pet for Christmas.


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1. Pets are a Lifetime Commitment

Adopting a companion animal should be something that is done after a lot of consideration and time has been spent researching the best pet to fit your family. This pet should be looked at as a part of your family, not an accessory that can easily be returned or discarded when the honeymoon phase wears off. While parents may provide most of the essential needs for the pet, like bringing him/her to annual vet appointments and grooming, the entire family should be involved in caring for and nurturing your companion animal. This can be a hard task for a child who is distracted by the lure of new gifts and playdates with friends over the holiday break. When giving a pet for Christmas, your kids may not see the commitment involved because of all the excitement of the holidays. Be sure to only bring a pet into the family when your entire family is ready to make the lifetime commitment a pet requires.


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