Three Questions to Ask Before Gifting a Pet This Holiday Season

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Pets make awesome gifts. Pets can be loving companions, exercise buddies and depression busters, but pet ownership can also be a lot of work. Caring a pet requires time, money, and responsibility. Before gifting a pet this holiday season, consider these questions.

Is the recipient ready for the responsibility of a pet? Pets are a big responsibility. If the recipient is a child, you should make sure he is mature enough to care for the pet long term. Pets are great gifts for older adults because they provide companionship, help fight depression and help seniors far needed exercise. But before gifting a pet, you should consider the senior’s health and mobility. Will these limitations prevent the recipient from adequately caring for the pet — feeding, walking and taking him to the vet?

Does the recipient live in a pet-friendly environment? Some apartment complexes, condominiums and retirement communities have strict rules concerning pets. Some limit the size of pets. Some even limit the type of pet. Be sure to check the recipient’s lease agreement or call the leasing agent for details. Even if the recipient owns a home, it’s wise to check with the homeowners association for any rules regarding pet ownership. Also check the local and county leash laws before gifting an “outdoor” pet.

Does the recipient have the time and money associated with pet ownership? Even if you are adopting a pet from a shelter, the ongoing care of the pet–including vet visits, vaccinations, spay or neutering, food, toys, grooming and boarding–can cost the owner several hundred dollars a year. While there are several ways to save money on pet supplies and medical treatments, you should still consider the recipient’s financial status before gifting such a big responsibility. Time constraints, such as work schedules or frequent travel, could also make it more difficult for the recipient to care for a pet.