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Small dog chewing on a red toy bone in front of Christmas tree

The Dos and Don'ts Of Gifting Pets For The Holidays

Recreating the perfect Christmas scene may seem easy. You might imagine tying a big red bow around a kitten or puppy’s neck, placing it under the tree and waiting for the kids to come down and adore their new forever friend. While that might sound great in theory, reality can look much different.  

Though receiving a pet on Christmas morning may seem like a dream come true, there are many factors that should be considered when gifting one. Once in a person’s care, an animal shouldn’t be returned home. It’s important to realize that adopting requires a 10- to 15-year commitment to a living, breathing creature. Though it might be a sweet gesture that can make a family happy for years to come, timing is an important factor. 

Know When to Gift a Pet

It has become a popular trend to gift pets for the holidays because of the great photo opportunity and the desire to make the recipient happy. However, as is the case with any instance of gift-giving, do your research and make sure an animal companion is something that he or she wants.  

There are many presents that can be given as a surprise, but a pet shouldn’t necessarily be one of them. That’s not to say it should never happen but avoid springing the responsibility on the recipient without warning or planning. When contemplating the decision, talk to family, friends and the receiver about taking in an animal. 

Factors to Consider When Gifting Pets During the Holidays

Pets, whether it’s dogs, cats, hamsters, lizards or anything in between, are vulnerable creatures that require time, attention and a considerable budget. Even minor elements of animal care, such as taking a dog on a walk during the colder months, should be kept in mind. Consider the following factors when getting a living creature for a friend or relative. 

  • Cost: There may be instances where the animal sleeps on the master bed or eats table scraps. Acknowledge that the recipient should be financially capable and willing to budget food, supplies, insurance and veterinary care into their expenses.  

  • Interest: Your friend or family member might have swooned over a passing dog on the sidewalk, but has he or she expressed personal interest in wanting a pet? Be sure that the person has openly confirmed that he or she could handle the responsibility.  

  • Lifestyle: Is the receiver working long hours or from home? Does he or she participate in many extracurricular activities? Are young children present in the house? Once you’re sure that the individual wants an animal, consider his or her lifestyle as well as any current or future commitments. 

  • Pet type: If the recipient lives in an apartment or condo, a large dog breed probably isn’t the best option. If the family doesn’t have time or space for vigorous exercise or long walks, giving a kitten as a Christmas present may be a better fit. Be mindful of the circumstances of the person and adjust the breed or species to what he or she can handle.  

  • Temperament: As much as you want to consider the needs and interests of the recipient, keep the pet’s well-being in mind as well. Give adequate time for the animal to prepare for its new environment and feel calm with strangers.

Adopt an Animal as a Christmas Gift

You may unexpectedly come across a puppy or kitten for sale and want to take it home. However, when it comes to gifting, don’t do it on impulse. Once you’re certain that giving a cat or dog as a Christmas present is the best idea, do your research to ensure it will be in a safe, secure, and long-term home. Adopt from a shelter instead of buying from a breeder, conduct the process responsibly and don’t forget a shiny bow! 

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