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Pet Blog

Buying a pet for Christmas? Make sure the recipient is ready

Posted December 12, 2015
Updated December 14, 2015

People pay for puppy love

Puppies and kittens are popular choices for surprise Christmas gifts, but those picking out new four-legged friends should make careful, informed decisions about what type of animal to bring home for the holidays.

Cumberland County Animal Control Director John Lauby says pets should not be given as gifts unless the giver knows the recipient is serious about taking care of the animal.

“If you want to give a pet as a gift, consider adopting one from the animal shelter,” Lauby said. “If you feel you have to give an animal, get educated about the pet and what it means to be responsible for an animal.”

Lauby says the animal's size and breed characteristics, as well as the age and maturity level of the intended recipient, should be considered.

Lauby also cautioned against giving pets to children who are too young to appreciate responsibility.

“Some people give pets to younger children in attempts to make them responsible, but the parents end up taking responsibility for the animal,” he said. “Usually, when children reach about age 10 or older, they understand responsibility for animals much better.”

If you're shopping for a pet you already own, here are some other gift suggestions...

  • Look for toys that will provide your pets with enrichment as well as fun. This could be something simple like a rubber toy with a compartment for hiding treats, or something more complex like a play tower with various-sized openings and surfaces for scratching and hiding.
  • Specialty treats make a good gift for any type of pet. For example, how about a peanut butter-flavored dog biscuit or a catnip toy for your kitty?
  • Is your pet a little rambunctious or prone to tearing apart new toys? Whether we’re talking about a dog, ferret, lizard or other pet, no-stuffing toys keep the fun to a maximum and the mess to a minimum.
  • Just as you may enjoy redecorating your house from time to time, your pets will also enjoy a change of scenery. Try a new light for your lizard’s terrarium or a new castle for your fish’s aquarium.
  • Personalized pet gifts are a great idea, but they can also help save lives. Get your dog or cat a personalized pet tag with you and your veterinarian’s contact information in case your pet gets lost.
  • Squeakers in toys can often become detached from the toy and present a choking hazard for your pet. Consider a safer alternative to squeaky toys, including tug ropes, Frisbees or balls.
  • Consider a play gym or swing for birds to keep them active even when they are in a cage. These can be found at many pet stores or specialty bird stores, and will help keep your bird’s mind sharp.
  • Does your snake’s terrarium need some accessories? Consider putting a rock in the cage where your snake can curl up and hide.
  • If you have a horse, they generally have a lot of space to run, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy getting a treat or a new toy from time to time. A horseplay ball is a fun idea to relieve boredom and stress in horses. It also is able to withstand biting and puncturing. Horses also love to chew on carrots, apples and sugar cubes, so this would be an extra treat to supplement their diet. For nights when it gets chilly, a blanket to wear would be very beneficial for your horse. New brushes with soft bristles are also a great addition to keep your horse happy and their coat healthy.
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