Don’t Gift a Pet, Plan for a Pet

15th December 2016


’Tis the season to start holiday shopping to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your shopping list. From the latest tech to the hottest toy, searching the aisles, both online and in the shops — the hunt is on for the gift that will bring the most joy this season.  But, there is one item that you won’t ever find on a published gift list. And for good reason: Pets are a different type of gift.

Many people around the world receive a new dog or cat during this time of year. It’s always with the best intention, as pet ownership can be one of the most amazing experiences. And it’s rewarding for the animals, too, because tens of thousands of homeless pets have the chance to find their forever homes.

However, consider this: one of the most memorable aspects of gift giving is the anticipation as we watch the emotional reaction of a family member or friend opens a gift they love. I remember fondly the moment I brought home our first dog, anxiously awaiting how my family would take to him – would they laugh, smile, cry for joy? Nothing beat those first moments of meeting your new family member.

But, when you’re gifting a pet, that moment is about celebrating the recipient. Giving a dog or cat, however, is different. It has to be about the animal. And, it is more than a joyous moment; it is a lifelong commitment.

Wouldn’t it be great if dogs and cats came with instruction manuals?

But they don’t. While that might make it easier in the short-term, one of the great joys of pet ownership is to discover your pet’s unique personality and needs. New owners may not have the time to consider these factors before the busy holiday season kicks off. In some instances, the dog or cat may have been selected without everyone being part of the decision. In fact, often, one of the most important individuals is not part of the conversation at all. Who? A veterinarian. A trusted, neutral voice who can ask you the tough questions and point you in the right direction.

Your new cat or dog will be part of the family for years — so it’s important to take time to research the right one, as well as their arrival and integration into your lives. Responsible pet ownership begins with this critical step. Here are seven factors to consider before introducing a new pet over the holidays:

  • What type is best?

Every cat and dog is different — their size, age, energy levels and temperaments that can impact the family dynamic. Finding your new cat or dog can be an exciting, but daunting, experience that will require research and planning with the entire family. What we have learned from years of knowledge and insights gained by working with veterinarians is that they are a key resource for information. Their professional experience can help you select the best type of dog or cat for your lifestyle, home and needs. They also can recommend local animal shelters or breeders.

  • Do you have a budget for their expenses?   

To have a cat or dog in your family can be expensive, but ask any owner and they’ll tell you they are worth every penny. First-year costs can be especially pricey, for instance, research by the PDSA Animal Welfare Paw Report shows that 98% of pet owners estimated less than the actual likely lifetime costs for their pet and that some 5.2 million pet owners did no research at all before taking on their pet, which could have a huge impact on their ability to provide for those animals’ needs. Remember to budget for both routine and emergency medical care, food, toys and grooming.

  • Have you selected who will care for your dog or cat?

Make sure to choose a veterinarian before a pet comes home and plan for potential pet sitters and dog walkers (if required) to meet your new cat or dog before hiring them.

  • Are there special health conditions or dietary needs your future pet may have?

Learn what your new animal needs to be healthy and happy at home with you.

  • Is your family’s schedule hectic?

Family time is precious — and even more so with a new pet. Work, travel and long hours, as well as after-school activities and responsibilities will impact your cat or dog too. Socially responsible pet ownership also includes planning for care. Can everyone help care for the pet — feed, exercise, train and play — or does the responsibility lie with you?

  • Have you researched training facilities to help your new pet learn?

Cats and dogs need love and attention, but they also need to learn your expectations. Training your new dog requires patience, dedication and persistence — and also requires time and money. Be sure to check references and make time to teach your dog.

  • Is your house pet ready?

Before bringing a new pet home, think about what’s best for the animal. Prepare a dedicated space with the appropriate supplies and toys before their arrival. Your pet’s environment is important.
Some breeds need more mental stimulation and space and some are better suited in a rural environment. Before finding your perfect cat or dog, check out any government or building regulations regarding pet ownership. In many cases, these ordinances will determine what kind of pet, if at all, a family can have.

As a company dedicated to a cat and dog first approach, ROYAL CANIN® is committed to doing what is best for dogs and cats. It’s one of the reasons we work so hard with veterinarians, breeders, academia, and other professionals in the field to truly understand pets like nobody else. That’s why this year it’s time to think differently about the giving season. Don’t give a pet, plan for a pet. Having a cat or dog join a family is one of the most rewarding, wonderful experiences. With the correct planning, we can make sure that the pet has a home for life.

Check out our holiday video below for a quick reminder to always think differently. Because every pet wants a forever home.



Category: Blog