Pets as Christmas Gifts - Pros and Cons

Dec 14, 2013


Giving a pet as a gift can be a wonderful idea, even better if you adopt it from a shelter.  But as a surprise for the recipient?  It just might backfire on you and on the poor animal, too.


Here in the Christmas shopping season, high-tech gadgets (like phones, tablets, gaming systems) are extremely popular. But you may be thinking of giving a gift that’s not quite as technologically advanced – a pet. It’s true that a dog or a cat is pretty “low-tech”, but that doesn’t mean low maintenance. In fact, pets require a lot of time and attention, not to mention ongoing support, such as food, veterinary care, supplies (including leashes or litter boxes) and even toys. So the gift of a pet is really a big decision.

As with any other major decision, it’s always a good idea to weigh the pros and cons. Let’s start with the pluses of giving a pet as a Christmas gift.

First, there’s the WOW factor. Who wouldn’t be delighted to find a cute cuddly puppy or kitten – or even a dog or cat - under the tree?

Then there’s the sentimental factor, the anticipation of the special bond that develops between a human and a beloved pet.

So what are the negatives to giving a pet as a Christmas gift?

First on this list is the fact that the recipient may not really want a pet, or may not be prepared to care for it. Next might be the timing – Christmas is a busy day for many of us. A new pet needs time to adjust to its new surroundings and unfamiliar people, without all the stress of a hectic holiday schedule.

Another consideration – unless you also provide some supplies, such as pet food, it could be difficult to shop for such things on Christmas Day.

And, last on my list - what will happen to that cute cuddly animal if for some reason it cannot stay with its intended owner?

Giving a pet as a Christmas gift is not really a bad idea, but there may be a better way to do it. Give a gift certificate. Then after the holidays, when things are not so hectic and there is more time to spend getting to know a new best friend, you can take the person with you to choose the pet. They get a pet they really want, and if you bring your camera, you get some great first pictures!

My wish for each of you is a holiday season filled with friendship, especially when you’re speaking of pets.