west highland terrier in christmas gift box under tree

Should Pets Be Given as Gifts?

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Please keep in mind this holiday season that animals should not be given as unexpected gifts; instead, they are life-long commitments! When we are shopping for presents and see cute puppies for sale, we should not make this impulse purchase. A well thought out puppy adoption by parents for their own children at Christmas is one thing, but to give an unexpected animal to someone, who may not want the responsibility – or who was thinking about getting a cat and not a dog – leads to animals being abandoned. Bringing a new pet home means that our lives will change. For the entire life of our pet, we will spend extra time and money that we didn’t spend before and we will need to show them lots of attention and love. A puppy is certainly adorable and fun, but they are a lot of work, and they grow into full-sized dogs with big appetites.

A Husky being hugged by it's owner.

If you know for sure that the person you are buying for really wants a dog or cat, then instead of going to a shelter and picking one out for them, instead offer to pay costs and go with them when they decide it’s time to go pick out their pet. Here are some things to consider:

Size and Age

A Pomeranian smiling at it's owner.

When a person is ready to commit to a new pet, they usually have ideas about the size of a dog they want to adopt, or the age of a cat. This is because a smaller dog works better in certain environments, like apartments. A younger, more energetic kitten also may not be for everyone! The gift recipient may want a mastiff and instead may receive a Chihuahua…this can lead to pets being abandoned, left in the yard to fend for themselves, or returned to a shelter more often than when someone picks out a pet for themselves.


Another consideration will be cost. Certain breeds end up having more medical expenses over time. Larger dogs eat more food than smaller dogs and cats. When you get a new pet, there are a lot of supplies that should be purchased initially also, such as kennels, beds, litter boxes, collars and leashes. These are all things that the actual pet owner needs to take into consideration so that they can be sure the cost of a pet fits their budget.


A cat hanging off the bed asleep.

A final thought has to do with the amount of time a person has to spend exercising and training a new pet. Dogs, of course, require more time and attention than cats do. They require daily walks, hours of training, and lots of affection. We may not know how much time someone is willing to commit to a pet, so we should not buy an unexpected pet for someone else! This can lead to a dog that is kenneled 12 hours a day and an unhappy pet-owner and friend.

A brown dog and orange cat laying together.

While I highly recommend having both dogs and cats as pets, remember these things when you see that cute puppy for sale. Give your girlfriend or nephew a voucher saying that you will cover adoption expenses instead – and be sure to check with parents and other household members first, before promising a pet to anyone!

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