Is A New Pet The Right Gift?

With the holiday season upon us and everyone getting all of their shopping done, there’s one thing that should never be on the gift giving list- surprising someone with a pet as a present. While it may originally seem like a great idea to give your recently widowed parent a companion or surprise your kids with their first pet, it doesn’t always end up a happy ending. 

Sara Forsberg · December 15, 2020

Is A New Pet The Right Gift?

With the holiday season upon us and everyone getting all of their shopping done, there’s one thing that should never be on the gift giving list- surprising someone with a pet as a present. While it may originally seem like a great idea to give your recently widowed parent a companion or surprise your kids with their first pet, it doesn’t always end up a happy ending. 

While the excitement of surprising a loved one with an adorable puppy or kitten may be tempting, pets are not like a sweater or piece of jewelry that can be easily returned or re-gifted.

It’s tempting to surprise someone, especially children, with a fluffy puppy or kitty complete with a bow. While you’re imagining the squeals of delight, consider how disappointing the situation could become.

Even if you acquire a pet who has had his first round of vaccinations or even his complete set, there’ll be a financial responsibility to maintain the pet’s health over a lifetime. While a pet given as a gift initially costs the person on the receiving end little or nothing, there is no such thing as a “free” animal. In addition to food and pet supplies, there will be veterinary costs. The recipient may not be able or willing to invest in maintaining the animal’s care. Regardless of whether you purchase a pet or adopt one for free, that animal will require a lifelong financial commitment. Surprising someone who is financially unable to care for a pet isn’t fair to the person and it certainly isn’t fair to the pet! A spreadsheet at aspca.org listed first-year pet care cost estimates — not including the cost of purchasing the animal — ranging from up to $1,471 for a small dog up to $2,008 for a large dog, and $1,174 for a cat. Of course, that’s just for the first year, and as animals age, their need for veterinary care may increase. Costs of owning a pet include expenses for:

  • Food and treats
  • Collars and leashes
  • Bedding
  • Veterinary care, including vaccines, medications, spaying and neutering, heartworm, flea and tick prevention
  • Grooming
  • Training, boarding or pet sitting
  • Fencing or containment systems
  • Time to exercise, play with and train the animal

Additionally adding a puppy to a household at this time of year presents special challenges. Taking your fur-baby outside every couple hours to get it potty trained in the winter is certainly not easy. In a lot of areas in the US, winter days are short and cold, but a puppy who requires house training will need to be taken outside often, even in the middle of the night, and even when it’s cold or raining or snowing. For some breeds the amount of exercise and walks required may not seem appealing in the freezing temps. If you are not prepared, it can be uncomfortable for both the dog and the caretaker.

It often happens that parents buy pets for young children, and grown-up children buy pets for elderly parents. In some of these instances, the recipient of the gift might not have the time, money, or physical strength to properly care for their new companion. And especially in the case when the recipients are young children, they don’t necessarily have the attention span or emotional commitment to properly care for a pet for its whole lifetime. If the pet is beyond their capabilities, it’s very likely to end up in a shelter within the first two years of its life because the new owners may realize they have bitten off more than they can chew. A lot of kittens and cats come into shelters as soon as six months later, when the cuteness has worn off. Same thing with puppies, eight or nine months later; but even for both it can be before the first Spring thaw just a few months later. Suddenly, it’s not the cute roly-poly puppy that was underneath the Christmas tree, or a kitten popping out of a box with a bow, it’s a dog that’s chewing up your furniture or a cat ruining your curtains. Too often gift animals end up in shelters, which are already filled with unwanted pets. Or worse, they may be neglected, abused or abandoned.

The unconditional love we get from our pets is unequaled, but animals come with work, a time commitment, vet bills, and unintended messes, so a pet should never be an impulsive gift. Animals are vulnerable, living, and breathing creatures with feelings that deserve more than fleeting attention as a gift-wrapped surprise. Anything less than a lifetime of love in a secure home is ultimately unfair to everyone.

Raw Food Tip:

For the first time in its evolutionary history we are asking our dogs to eat nothing but cooked food. This is a very dramatic change and biologically unacceptable. It is most often processed food, usually either canned or dry food. The cooking process destroys many of the life enhancing factors found only in raw food. These include enzymes, many natural antioxidants, and other anti-degeneration factors.

- Robert Mueller, Sr.

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Sara Forsberg

Sara Forsberg

Sara has been part of the BARF team since 2019. She is responsible for some admin duties, helping keep the office running smoothly and support for Rob Jr. and the rest of the team. She has been passionate about animals since a small child growing up with a Siberian Husky and 3 cats, and as an adult having a Labrador Retriever that suffered from a lot of allergy problems. She now has a rescue orphaned kitten, Poppy, and a new addition in another Lab named Jax. She has 7 children that keep her busy in most of her spare time; but enjoys anything on or near the water, spending time with friends and family, music, reading and cooking.

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!