Perfect Pets For Christmas

There are many things to consider before buying someone a pet for Christmas. A pet is a lifetime commitment, not a toy to be abandoned when the novelty wears off. They are living creatures requiring food, water, safe surroundings, and medical care. When you purchase a pet for someone you are presuming their willingness to provide all these. The recipient takes responsibility for detrimental behaviors by the pet such as biting or chewing, and whenever they take vacations or are gone for long periods of time, the animal needs a caregiver.

Dog

High maintenance dogs such as working class dogs and terriers display traits such as: high energy, aggressiveness, stubbornness, and strong will. As a general rule, they require lots of exercise and interaction and may exhibit behaviors like chewing or fear biting if their needs are not met. Some examples of high maintenance breeds would be terrier, wolf hybrid, and Chihuahua.

Low maintenance dog breeds are: Pug, Papillion, Pomeranian, Bichon Frise, and English Toy Spaniel, to name a few. These breeds do not require lots of space or exercise, are even tempered for the most part, and can be purchased from breeders, rescued, or adopted. Dogs are suitable pets for most age groups.

Dog Information - Information on breeds, rescue and adoption organizations, and other pertinent canine facts.

Cat

As a general rule, cats are average maintenance pet choices with only a few longhair breeds like Persians requiring regular grooming or special care. Siamese and Burmese breeds are vocal when they feel neglected but overall are congenial companions. Good choices for cat breeds as pets are Siberians, Manx, Russian Blue and Maine Coon with Ragdolls being superior for youngsters. Appropriate nutrition along with preventive health care will ensure a long lifespan. They groom and exercise themselves, and require little space, making them ideal for apartment dwellers or others with limited space. Animal shelters and rescue organizations have felines for adoption, or you can check with a reputable breeder or other source. As with dogs, cats can be enjoyed by all but the youngest children.

Stanford Cat Resources - Information on cat care, health, adoption and rescue operations, and other resources.

Holiday Pet Tips - Information on selecting breeds, necessary care and other considerations.

Cat Breeds - Pictures of purebred cat breeds.

Hamster

Hamsters are adorable bundles of fur, easy to tame, low maintenance in care requirements, inexpensive to feed, and good natured. They are splendid pets for older children capable of being responsible for feeding and care. Putting an exercise wheel in the cage provides adequate exercise, and most cages do not require a large footprint. On a down note, small animals like hamsters have a short life span – one to three years – and can become sickly and die unexpectedly. Adopting a hamster or purchasing one from a breeder is safer than buying one from pet stores since you get accurate information about the animal and its ancestry.

How to Care for Hamsters - Fact sheet on hamsters and their care and feeding.

Adopt a Pet - Find hamsters and other animals waiting for adoptions.

Hamster Hideout - Answers the FAQs (frequently asked questions) about hamsters.

Hamster Picture Gallery - Photos of different hamster breeds.

Rabbit

Rabbits are fastidious, intelligent, and even tempered; with proper care they live an average of ten to fifteen years.  Cages or hutches require regular cleaning to prevent odors especially if the pets are kept inside, but on the plus size living quarters do not require much space. While they can be leash trained and taken for short walks, as general rule litter training does not work as well with rabbits. Owners may have to invest in several litter boxes or be prepared for frequent clean-up duty. Dwarf breeds are chosen most with breeds such as Dutch, Holland Lop, and Netherland Dwarf being top picks. Rabbit bones break easily so older children and adults make the best owners.

Bunny Care - Fact sheet on best rabbit care practices.

Rabbit Breeds - Photographs of rabbit breeds.

Rabbit Hutches - How to build a rabbit hutch.

Snake

Snakes rank at the top of the list of high maintenance pets; if the breed selected will not eat frozen small animals, the owner must make regular trips to a pet store or other source to buy live feeder animals, and they must have a container at least as long as the size of the adult snake. With proper care, snakes live 15-20 years, so if they are purchased for a child, the snake may still dwell at home when the child is grown and gone. Correct amounts of heat, shade, and food must be available daily to maintain their health. The best breeds for pets are: corn snakes, king snakes, gopher snakes, and ball pythons.

Snakes and Captivity - How to care for pet snakes.

Snake Shots - Images of snake breeds.

Snake FAQ - Answers to the most common questions about snakes as pets.

Ferret

Ferrets are the third most popular pet to give as a gift even though they are high maintenance pets because of their incredible energy level – think toddler on a sugar high.  These tiny creatures, two to four pounds fully grown, are canny bundles of activity with a larcenous soul. They love to grab and hide objects, squirm for freedom when embraced, and get into many adventures. Ferrets must be neutered or spayed, and should be de-scented to remove the musk gland. Like rabbits, they can be litter trained but may have accidents and will need more than one litter box. Adults are recommended as owners rather than children as ferrets have a good temperament but may bite if provoked.

Ferret Page - Fact sheet on ferret ownership.

Ferret FAQ - Everything a ferret owner needs to know.

Find a Ferret - Photos, breeder information, and general tips.

Fish

Fish are perfect pets for allergy sufferers and those who do not require an affectionate companion. Tropical and saltwater fish can be high maintenance in terms of establishing and maintaining aquarium environments, but in areas of feeding and exercise needs their requirements are minimal. Containers can be tailored to fit the available space – traditional goldfish bowls to monster aquariums.  Best choices for a gifts are goldfish or bettas and fish are appropriate pets for any age group.

Fish - the Perfect Pet

Betta Fish- Fact sheet on betta fish and their care.