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Should You Give a Pet as a Holiday Gift?

Updated on April 16, 2017
btrbell profile image

Randi lives with her family and 4 rescue cats. She grew up in a home that has always welcomed strays and has continued the tradition.

As the holiday season approaches, so does the search for the perfect gift. Whether it be a need to fulfill a loved one's desire or the quest for that elusive gift, pets are often at the top of the list for people-pleasing gifts. But are they truly the "right" gift?

Does it get much sweeter than this?
Does it get much sweeter than this? | Source

Before you Buy a Pet as a Gift.

Pets are a big commitment whether it is a goldfish or a horse. Before you bring any animal home with you, it would be a good idea to see just how much of a commitment it is. Puppies and kittens are very easy to love but will you continue to enjoy their antics as they get older and bigger?

Surprise! It's not a coffeemaker!
Surprise! It's not a coffeemaker! | Source

What do you think?

Have you ever given or received a pet as a gift?

See results

Be Prepared

If you are giving a pet as a gift, make sure that the recipient has everything they need for the pet at least until they can go out and get the things they will need or include supplies as part of the gift. A goldfish can only last in a plastic bag for so long! We adopted a rescue kitten impulsively, several years ago. We were halfway home when we remembered we had nothing at home to care for her. We were able to stop to get her supplies and food. We were lucky that there are stores opened all night long but that may not be the case on Christmas.

My Personal Experience

When I was about ten years old, I received a gerbil as a gift. He came to me in one of those little cardboard, take-out boxes and that was exactly what my mother made me do, take him out! I waited outside for my dad to come home. We went back to the store, which wouldn't take it back, bought a small cage and the following day, I donated him to my classroom. Ours had a happy ending. My classroom had a great pet and I got to feel proud that it was because of me. Unfortunately, not all unwanted pets find another home, especially the small ones. They are left to die or released into surroundings that they don't know how to survive in. My gift giver had good intentions but should have spoken to my parents before bringing it.

Determining which pet to give

If you are set on purchasing a pet for a gift, it is important to determine all the factors involved. They include

  • cost
  • care
  • space
  • personality
  • time
  • willingness

If your niece, neighbor or the child you babysit for voices a desire for a pet, even a small one, do be sure to clear it with her parents first. They may be thrilled that you are planning this or they may have other ideas to help you make this happen.

Does Your Pet Suit your Lifestyle?

Will you be ok with your pet sharing baby's things?!
Will you be ok with your pet sharing baby's things?! | Source

Important things to consider when choosing a pet

Will a pet fit into the current lifestyle?
Able to take on the financial commitment
Does the recipient want this pet?
Is anyone in the household allergic, afraid or anti pets
Willing to take on the emotional commitment?
Would the recipient prefer to choose their own pet?
Was the recipient planning on getting a pet?
Can you provide the physical tasks?
Is the recipient ready for this pet now?
Click thumbnail to view full-size
What child doesn't want to snuggle a new puppy?All ready for Christmas!
What child doesn't want to snuggle a new puppy?
What child doesn't want to snuggle a new puppy? | Source
All ready for Christmas!
All ready for Christmas! | Source

Consider Adopting a Pet.

If you are getting a dog or a cat, please consider adopting your pet. There are so many homeless pets that would make the best "forever" friends. If you are looking for a specific breed, there are many rescue organizations that can help you find you that particular breed. Please remember that any animal you bring into your home should be considered a forever pet. These are lives and don't deserve to be shuffled around.

Pets are for Life

First and foremost to remember is that adopting or buying a pet requires a commitment to care for that pet as long as it lives. Very often, pets given as Christmas gifts are returned right after the holiday. Many people find that they are unable or unwilling to care for them. If you want to give a pet as a gift, it is a great idea to involve the recipient in the decision making and choosing process.

Timing is Everything.

What is your house like on Christmas morning? The typical family with children is usually a little wild and exciting. Kids are unwrapping gifts, eating treats and having a general fun time. can you imagine a brand new pet, who is probably already nervous and maybe a bit terrified being introduced into that environment? I can't imagine how terrifying that would be. If you are giving a pet for Christmas, it is recommended that you do it either before or after, so that you can better acclimate your new pet.

A Sobering Thought

Life With Four Felines

If you would like to read more about my personal experiences, please check out these hubs:

Gifting a Pet Responsibly

There are many organizations that will gladly help you to pick the right animal and provide you with resources to care for your new pet. Please peruse some of these sites before you bring a new pet home.




© 2013 Randi Benlulu


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    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, B. Lucy! I have also been there with the giving and receiving. As long as it's well planned, it's an amazing gift! Thank you sui much for stopping by and your generous comment!

    • B Lucy profile image

      B Lucy 

      6 years ago from Podunk, Virginia

      What a great article. I have both given and received pets as gifts but it was after much thought and preparation. I cringe during holiday season or when a movie comes out featuring an animal knowing so many people will jump into this kind of commitment on a whim. So enjoyed your take on this topic!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Patricia! Pets are too precious to play around with! I'm sending angels right back to you!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 years ago from North Central Florida

      Excellent hub, Randi.Certainly giving a pet is well intentioned but it is a huge commitment. I was asked before I was given the one I now have. And honestly I had to think it over before I said yes.

      Thanks for sharing this. This is information that will be very helpful to others.

      Angels are once again on the way to you and yours ps

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, drbj! Definitely a fruitcake! Merry Christmas and happy new year!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent advice, Randi. Pets are living animals and should not be given to someone unless requested. Give them a fruitcake instead. Ho, ho.

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Agreed, Deathblow! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Deathblow profile image

      Andrew Crawley 

      7 years ago from Earth

      I don't think so.

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hey Joelle! Congrats on the spaying and neutering! That is critical. When our 2 youngest were trapped, they were able to trap their mother, too. SShe was very feral so she was spayed and put back out with her family. The kittens were all adopted out. Thank you for sharing!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much moonlake. I enjoyed your comment and appreciate the vote. Enjoy your pets!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Flourishanyway! That is a great policy to have. We have had a fairly open door policy at home as long as everyone helps out but I have never given a pet as a surprise, even to my kids. I have always let them pick our pets with us. When I ws a kid, my parents wouldn't only hold council with us kids, I remember them bringing the family dog to meet the new puppy before we made a final decision!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Sheila! I think you are right that many people are not as serious about actually bringing a pet home. I love your idea about giving them a stuffed animal and card inviting them. Great idea!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      You are absolutely right, Frank! They are an awesome responsibility that should be taken seriously.

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Faith!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Alphadogg! I couldn't agree more!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Heidi! I am a great advocate of adoption! Our current crew numbers 4 crazy cats, all with an interesting story to tell! All with a forever home, now! Don't worry, I plu\g shelters and adoption in all my posts about pets!

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Bill! I think you know how I feel about my crew and an on total agreement with you!

    • kidscrafts profile image


      7 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great advice Randi! I would never give an pet as a holiday gift or a birthday.... unless it's pre-arranged with the receiver who asked specifically for a new pet. A pet is a big commitment, a big responsibility. Too many pets are abandoned or abused so it's better to not add more to the burden of shelters.

      Each animal deserves a good home with people ready for that long commitment. My husband and I decided that for each cat we would adopted we would have them spayed or neutered to not add other kittens in world where there are already so many. And per principle, we don't buy our cats either; we adopt cats that need a home.

      Some people give a pet to others with the best intention but the person who receive the pet is maybe not prepared for it or doesn't want it.

      Thank you for sharing this important hub at this time of the year!

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      When I was in first grade many many years ago our uncle gave us a puppy for Christmas. The mother had been killed and he was taking care of the puppies. He gave one to us on Christmas Day we were thrilled and so happy to get it. My Mom and Dad had to get up with it in the middle of the night and give him his bottle. I could hear the murmur of their voices as they talk to the puppy.

      Your kitty and my kitty could be brothers.

      I would never give a pet to someone that I didn't want it and Christmas is not a good time for most because of it being so busy.

      Voted up on your hub.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Great advice and really cute photos of your kitty. Animals are not objects and should never be "gifted" to people. My husband and I set a rule about discussing any living being joining our family; it's a family decision, and pets are members rather than property. You covered all the bases well. Voted up +++ and shared.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great advice! Even when I know someone really would like to have a pet, it's often hard to know whether or not they're only talking about getting one some time in the future or really want one now. Getting someone a pet on an impulse could turn out badly and the person may decide to take the animal to a shelter. I think the best idea is to give someone a card and maybe a stuffed animal instead of surprising them with the real thing. In the card, you can tell them you'll take them to a store or shelter, let them pick the animal, and then you'll pay for it.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      7 years ago from Shelton

      Time and commitment.. a pet needs to be cared for and not just for a couple of months.. sometimes years so I wouldn't give pets as a gift but I respect your views.. good hub here..:)

    • btrbell profile imageAUTHOR

      Randi Benlulu 

      7 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Jackie! Much appreciated!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      7 years ago from southern USA

      Great advice dear Randi! I think if the person is responsible enough to care for the pet and desires a pet, then yes. But if it is going to be a family pet, then that is a different case and okay because the giver will be involved in the care and knows the family situation best.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      7 years ago from Texas

      I have to agree with heidithorne, the recipient should definitely be involved with the process, everyone is different and may be picky about specific types of dogs. As long as they are ok with it and the dog is wanted, great idea.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      7 years ago from Chicago Area

      The recipient should always be involved in the pet decision and NEVER given a pet they haven't done a meet & greet with. I suppose for pets such as fish it might not be as critical. But even then, the recipient should be fully aware of the responsibilities and necessities involved with the pet. Working in animal shelter world, I can tell you that the post-holiday influx of unwanted pets is just heartbreaking. If the whole family is involved in the selection and acclimation process, introducing a pet during the holidays is probably okay, though not recommended. Good suggestions about avoiding the Christmas chaos which is stressful for both new and existing pets. Thanks for promoting adopting!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is just something I would never do. Pets are too important to take chances with. Great suggestions here Randi.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      7 years ago from the beautiful south

      That really would be a big decision, and because we might like to have one doesn't mean everyone does, huh? You covered it very well and did a terrific job to cover everything. My daughter caught herself with a new kitten once and no litter box or the litter but I made her one putting a large bag over a flat box and adding dry dirt. Beat the alternative! lol

      Up +


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