Four Factors to Consider Before You Give A Pet As A Gift

Pug dog wearing Santa hat with two little Persian kittens, surrounded by Christmas ornaments.

It can be tempting to give a cute, cuddly  puppy or kitten as a gift for a holiday or birthday. There are few things that give people warm, fuzzy feelings like snuggling with a plump, sweet  baby pet.  Waking up to a precious puppy under the Christmas tree or a cute little bunny for Easter elicit love and good vibes. However, what happens after the initial exchange of a well meaning live gift can have potentially unsavory consequences for the giver and receiver if a few factors are not taken into consideration before purchasing a pet as a gift for a loved one. 

Giving a pet as a gift is also giving the receiver the huge commitment and responsibility of caring for a pet for it’s natural lifetime.  Though a pet is a ‘free’ gift, there are costs; all pets will require an investment of money, time, energy and space.  Before you decide to give or receive a pet as a gift, here are a few factors to take into consideration:

Avoid Giving Pets As Impulse Gifts

Even if you are giving a pet to an immediate family member, it’s a good idea to know for sure if they want a pet as a new, permanent family member. Many people may love animals, but are not able to provide the financial commitment that comes with caring for a pet long term. Perhaps their lifestyle isn’t conducive to investing the time necessary for care and attention that all pets need.  Often, pets given as gifts wind up in shelters because the long term commitment just wasn’t well thought out with the pet being given as an impulse gift.

Should Pets Be Given As Gifts To Children?

It depends on a couple things. Is the pet age appropriate? Children of different ages will be able to accept different levels of responsibility of pet care. Take into consideration total family responsibility as well; some parents are not willing to assume the additional responsibility of caring for the pet along with young children.  

Also, be sure that the child truly even wants a pet…children have many interests and will be very interested in something until the novelty wears off. Then they are on to the next object of intense interest. Often, parents reluctantly become the pet’s owner, or the pet winds up being neglected.

Holidays Can Be A Stressful Time To Bring A New Pet Home

There is such excitement surrounding the holidays and the prospect of spending time with family, friends and loved ones. However, holidays are seldom a good time to introduce a new pet into the family if it hasn’t been carefully planned.  The excitement, hustle and bustle of the season and constant activity isn’t the best time to acclimate a new pet to the household with no prior planning. With all the extra shopping, cooking, entertaining, trips, visits, etc., there will most likely not be enough energy and patience left over for an unplanned pet. 

The Majority of Gifted Pets Are Purchased From Pet Stores (aka Puppy Mills)

Purchasing a pet from a pet store that supports puppy mills is never a good thing. Never.  Purchasing pets from puppy mills that are often really horrible, inhumane conditions for puppies to be born into encourages irresponsible breeders to continue mass breeding potentially sick animals in inhumane, neglectful conditions. The holidays are when the irresponsible individuals that operate puppy mills and backyard breeding operations make their most money. No one suffers except the puppies, which often end up in shelters because they are purchased as gifts or impulse buys. Once the novelty of the holidays wears off and the real time for responsibility sets in, often these pets are what we see in shelters.


The Good News

A pet given as a holiday gift can be a welcome, long term member of the household IF a couple of rules of thumb are followed. ALWAYS plan the giving of a pet as a gift. Be certain that the receiver is open and has the lifestyle to receiving the type of pet that you decide to gift them. Lastly, be sure that the type of pet that you give as a gift is appropriate for the age, lifestyle and financial situation of the person receiving. 

Happy Holidays everyone!

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