Consider This Before Gifting a Pet
Although there has been an increase in demand for the adoption and fostering of pets during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has also been an uptick in the number of animals being surrendered, according to several animal shelters. Unfortunately, this uptick may increase after the holiday season, as oftentimes ‘’gift” pets are surrendered as their owners cannot or will not look after them.
While pets have proven to be great companions amid the pandemic—providing entertainment, comfort, and stress relief—there are many things to consider prior to gifting a cat or dog to a friend or family member this Christmas. These considerations include pet care costs, owner commitment, and species/breed-pet owner compatibility.
In a new report by Mars Petcare, parent company of BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, investigators found that some pet owners have faced financial challenges throughout the pandemic, with 20% of pet owners having considered giving up their pets in 2020, and 13% actually doing so. With this information in mind, BluePearl is stressing the many things to consider prior to gifting a furry companion this holiday season.
Three Things to Consider Prior to Gifting a Pet
- Cost. Aside from emergency care expenses, the ASPCA estimates that the total first-year cost of dog (or cat) ownership can range from $1,314 and $1,843 on average. Included in this estimate is pet health insurance (which many pet owners do not have), food, toys, preventative care, grooming, and more. If a pet gets sick or injured, veterinary costs can quickly add up. Potential pet costs are good reasons to have pet health insurance, like Trupanion, or a pet emergency fund.
- Commitment and care. There is a reason they are called companion animals. The average lifespan of a dog is between 10 and 13 years, and for cats, the average lifespan is between 12 and 18 years. Cats and dogs require continual commitment and care from their owners, which includes feeding, training, bathing, exercising, entertaining, and socializing. Remember, these responsibilities remain, even if the pet owner is out of town. This means alternate care, such as pet sitting or boarding, must be arranged. Ask yourself: Is my family member or friend ready to commit to a pet for the next 10 to 18 years?
- Compatibility. You often hear, “I’m a dog person,” or “I’m a cat person,” as each species can call for an owner with a particular lifestyle. This is also true for the breed of pet, as different breeds will be more compatible with certain owner lifestyles than others. For example, breeds of dogs that require a lot of exercise and space to move and run, such as German Shorthaired Pointers or Australian Shepherds, may not be compatible with an owner living in a small apartment.
Owning a pet is a life-long responsibility. If you are thinking about gifting a cat or dog this Christmas, seriously consider the costs, including the unexpected, the owner’s lifestyle, and other factors associated with pet ownership.
Once you have done your research and are sure the recipient is ready and willing to care for a new dog or cat, take the next steps. To ensure the best care possible, you may also want to include information on pet health insurance and/or a pet supplies gift card to help alleviate some of the owner’s costs during the first few months of pet ownership.