Giving Thanks to Vet Clinics and Shelters: The Best (and Worst) Holiday Gifts to Give

For Your Favorite Veterinary Clinic

Individual or group gift: When you think of your vet's office, you might just picture your veterinarian's smiling face, but remember that there are also vet techs and office staff who work hard every day to give your pet high-quality care. Gifts that can be shared among the group are greatly appreciated, says Dr. Katie Hogan, a cardiology resident at MSPCA-Angell Medical Center in Boston.

Support a stray: Many Good Samaritans will drop off stray animals who need care at clinics, but there's often no one to pay for that care. Consider asking if you can help with one of those cases, or if there's a fund you can contribute to that supports injured, stray pets who come in.

Food for thought: Consumables can be a wonderful gift, but there are a few things to keep in mind. "We tend to get a lot of sweets and baked goods, especially during the holidays," says Dr. Hogan, "and while that is very thoughtful and often delicious, we end up with a lot of baked goods and it can do a number on the waistline! So we always appreciate any sort of healthier snacks." Many of the vets we talked to echoed this sentiment, citing Edible Arrangements (which are fresh fruit bouquets) as a favorite treat. It's worth noting that a gift comprised of fruits or veggies is less likely to be in conflict with anyone's dietary restrictions, so those who are vegetarian, gluten-free, diabetic and more can all enjoy the kind gesture.

In terms of food gifts, you'll also want to consider ease of eating, according to Dr. Sarah Boston, a surgical oncologist at the University of Florida. In her book,Lucky Dog, she writes, "On more than one occasion, I have been presented with a Crock-Pot full of stew. It is a challenging gift to eat on-the-fly in a busy animal hospital. We just don't have the facilities to accommodate a sit-down stew meal in the middle of our day... You are so generous, and I appreciate the effort and the thought, but I just can't eat the stew."

Gift cards:You know what many veterinarians and their staff run on? Coffee! Gift cards to a nearby coffee shop are truly treasured, says Dr. Hogan. You could also pick up a gift certificate to a nearby cafe or sandwich shop so the office could order lunch on you for a day.

And the No. 1 Gift Is...

While monetary donations and fruit bouquets ranked high, the one gift that every single person we asked — rescue worker and veterinarian alike — mentioned was the simplest of all: a heartfelt thank you.

"These are animals we’re working with—it’s not a 9-to-5 job. It’s 24/7," says Ottaka. "So when Thanksgiving comes, Christmas comes, there’s still the staff who’s here with the animals — walking them, feeding them, playing with them. Just the acknowledgement of a thank you goes a really long way."

Dr. Hogan dittoed that statement, saying, "I think my favorite gifts are often cards and updates on clients and their pets and how everyone is doing!"

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