Giving pets as gifts is a super bad idea! People and families should chose the pet that is right for them, one who fits into their lifestyle and at a time they are capable of giving it a forever home. Instead of giving a pet, see if your local rescue or shelter can make a gift certificate so that your friend or relative can choose the right pet at the right time. Give them a book so that they can prepare to be an awesome pet parent, supplies their future pet will need, or even treat them to a Pet First Aid Class, so that they are prepared to handle whatever that pet will throw their way, but let them choose their own furry forever family member when the time is right for them!

If YOU have decided to adopt a pet for yourself at this time of year, that is a wonderful thing! Remember though, puppies & kittens are like baby humans in that they need extra care and constant watching. They have not learned any of life’s rules yet nor the methods for their own survival, so…refer to all the previous 6 Holiday Pet Safety Tips on this page and those yet to come, but also…

When choosing to adopt any pet during the holidays, you should consider whether or not you are willing to take a “time out” from the season. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy festivities because sharing them with your new best friend can be awesome, but…a new pet needs time to transition into his new life and can’t do so if you are dashing about, stressed or have a constant stream of company coming and going. It’s important for you to get off on the right paw and let your new cat or kitten/dog or puppy know that this is now their home too and that you are their special person and will always be there for them. Remember you need to train kitty where the litter box is and what NOT to get into to keep her safe. You may need to house-train your dog. This takes time and patience. Additionally, since the holidays are the time of year people tend to spend large quantities of money, do you have enough funds to provide your new friend with a proper bed, scratching post, toys, food, initial veterinary visit and emergency visit should the need arrive?

If you’ve answered yes to all of these basic pet parenting obligations and agree to the lifetime commitment, then by all means, adopt as pets need homes for the holidays and shouldn’t have to wait in a shelter a moment longer than necessary, but…waiting for their soul mate person is better than being adopted into a home and lifestyle that is not ready for them. When humans get too overwhelmed, pets feel our frustration and often get returned to shelters, so make sure you are ready, and that is the best time to adopt!

On the other side of gift giving…

As packages are placed under the tree, kindly ask anyone dropping one off if it is “edible” — something that might intrigue your pet if placed on the floor. Anything with a scent (even undetectable by you) can tempt your dog or cat to do a little pre-Christmas unwrapping. Bird seed and a feeder, scented candles, pet treats, fruit cake and candies can set your fur child up for disaster if left at ground level. Even if the gift inside is deemed “uninteresting” to your cat or dog, take note if candy canes, evergreens & berries or any food item may be tied into the bow.

Ribbons, bows, yarn and tinsel can cause choking as well as intestinal blockages if consumed. Tinsel strands, in particular, can wrap around your pets tongue while the other end is swallowed. If peristaltic actions (muscle contractions) continue to pull the strand and you’ll need to be at the Animal ER immediately.

Boxes and paper bags are generally safe play toys for your furry friends, but be extra carefully in checking these items BEFORE you toss them out as small kits and pups could be hanging out in one!

Fluffy or Fido can certainly join in the fun of unwrapping their own gifts with your supervision. Before wrapping though, remove tags and snip off nylon whiskers from stuffed toys (which could scratch your pet’s eyes while he’s chewing on it. By size-appropriate gifts and don’t believe there is such a thing as an indestructible toy – out there somewhere is a pet who can destroy LOL Remove buttons or anything your pet could swallow from gifts before he gets to it, and just know your pet…don’t purchase toys with squeakers if your dog will have the gift ripped open in seconds!

When you have a dog or cat, you have a furry child for life, and it is your privilege to keep them safe!