Considerations When Gifting a Pet to a Child

“Mommy, I want a puppy for Christmas.”

Countless parents have heard those words for countless holidays. And while the request may be sincere and heartfelt, the reality after Christmas morning can be a bit of a shock. Should you give a pet as a gift? Generally speaking, no. Especially when the recipient is a child.

Children are notoriously fickle. The adorable puppy rolling around under the Christmas tree could be the chained-up dog in the back yard next summer if your child loses interest.  Even if the animal holds your child’s interest for 10+ years, what happens when your child grows up and moves out? You could have another 10 years of caring for the animal if your child is unable to bring it to a dorm or apartment.

Also, children are not responsible for a pet’s veterinary care, expenses, or transportation. If the pet gets sick, it’s not going to be the child who pays the vet bill, buys special food, or drives the animal to the vet.  Some children ask for smaller pets, like hamsters, which some parents think is a better solution. But just like larger animals, hamsters require daily care. Unlike larger animals, parents may not notice if the food bowl or water bottle is empty if the cage is kept in the child’s bedroom. There is also the added hazard of escapes – small animals are notorious escape artists, and it doesn’t take long for them to get into the walls or get lost in the basement or attic. In order to properly care for the animal, an adult must be fully responsible for the animal at all times.
If you do decide to give a pet as a gift, make sure you come visit us at Willard for all your new pet’s health needs!
For more than 20 years, Willard Veterinary Clinic has provided dedicated veterinary care for the communities of Quincy, Boston, Dorchester, Milton, Braintree, Weymouth, Canton, Randolph, Hingham, Abington, Hanover, and Rockland. Contact us to see why we’re different!

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