Giving Pets as Gifts: The Do’s and Don’ts
Pets as gifts may seem like a great idea at first. However, taking care of a pet is difficult and most people aren’t ready for such a responsibility.
Pet abandonment is a serious issue, especially when said pets are gifted. Below, I share some stats, tell you why pets as gifts is a bad idea, and guide you through the right way to gift a pet to someone (if you really want to).
Why Is It a Bad Idea to Gift Pets?
There are two kinds of people: people who want to buy a pet for themselves, and people who want to give them as gifts to someone.
Both ideas can be equally dangerous if the person who has to take care of the pet is not prepared to be a pet owner, but the latter is a particularly bad idea.
1. It’s better to adopt than to buy a pet
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an approximate number of 6.5 million pets enter shelters every single year. These adorable puppies and kitties are just waiting for a lovely human to welcome them into their family. This makes the idea of buying a pet quite useless, don’t you think?
I understand that some people want a particular breed of dog, and I don’t condemn that. However, with a bit of work and patience, you will probably find the breed you are looking for in a shelter.
If you do not care about the breed, I encourage you to adopt any furry soul that you feel a connection with when you visit a shelter. They will be just as loyal and loving as a store or breeder bought pet.
That said, if you really want to gift pets, please consider adopting instead of buying.
2. Not Many People Can Financially Support a Pet
The costs of caring for a pet are really high, and not many people anticipate that. Here are just a few of the things a pet needs that are quite costly, to put things into perspective for you:
- Health checkups
- Possible medications
If this list has made you doubt your decision, then you probably shouldn’t get a puppy or a kitty as a gift. Think about the extra costs that would fall on your friend, and how they would probably hate you for it if nothing else can change your mind.
3. Pet Owners Should Be Prepared, Not Surprised
If your heart flutters at the thought of finding a little puppy in a nicely wrapped gift box, it doesn’t mean that everyone will feel the same.
If someone is not expecting a pet, they won’t have the necessary knowledge and supplies to properly take care of them. While supplies can be bought easily, the knowledge you should ideally gather before becoming a pet owner takes time.
To start off, you could read some of Cesar, the Dog Whisperer’s articles, in which he shares tips on how to train and care for dogs. If you’re more of a visual person, you can watch some of his clips instead.
4. Not Everyone Has Time for a Pet
Pets need love and constant attention, so if you know the person you want to surprise doesn’t have that much free time, getting them a pet would be cruel for the tiny creature.
Someone who works a full-time job away from home and constantly has other engagements to attend to after work is not suitable to be a pet parent. Even if cats are more flexible when it comes to spending time alone, neither dogs nor cats should be left by themselves for too long.
5. Pets Are Not Toys
Oftentimes, people get pets as gifts for their kids, because what child wouldn’t be delighted at the prospect of a fluffy animal in the house?
However, a child is rarely responsible enough to care for a pet, and they might end up treating it like a toy, only playing with it when they want, and then disregarding its other needs.
If you, as a parent, or the kid’s parents are not prepared to care for the pet themselves, then the pet has no place in that home.
Luckily for any pets living in a house that is not suitable for them, animal protection laws in the US are quite strict, not to mention the fact that animal cruelty is severely punished.
6. Many Gifted Pets Are Abandoned
If the holidays don’t make you just a little bit crazy, you’re not doing it right. Now, imagine bringing a pet into all of this craziness. That wouldn’t be very pleasant for it, would it?
Especially when they’re just getting used to a new home, the pet has to have your undivided attention, which is extremely unlikely to happen if you have people over, relatives visiting, or parties you need to attend.
A lot of people who get pets as birthday or Christmas gifts and realize they are not ready for the responsibility, choose to abandon them. Of those pets, not all of them make it to shelters, and those who do are still unlikely to get adopted due to the large number of animals who are looking for loving families.
Did you know that in Berlin, shelters make people wait until the end of Christmas to adopt?
What to Consider Before Gifting a Pet
1. Do They Actually Want a Pet?
The most important question you need to ask yourself is whether the person you want to surprise actually wants a pet. If they’ve been talking about it for ages, are prepared, and plan to get one soon anyway, your idea might be a success. If not, the answer is a hard no.
If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you clearly don’t know them well enough to make that decision for them. It’s more likely for you to get it right when it comes to a close family member such as a husband, wife, sibling, or parent.
2. Can They Afford the Pet?
If you think you know a person well enough to get them a pet, you should also know them well enough to deduce if they can afford one or not. Without a budget designated specifically for the pet, the idea gets a thumbs down from us.
3. What about Children?
Children and pets often have a complicated relationship, which is why it’s important to consider their dynamic before bringing a pet into the family.
4. Do They Have Other Pets?
What do two fussy, bitchy cats add up to? A fiasco. Before gifting a second pet to someone, ask yourself if their personalities would match. Even better yet, just don’t do it, since you can’t possibly know the pet as well as its owner does.
5. Do They Have the Time and Abilities to Care for a Pet?
Will the pet be left alone most of the time or will the owner provide it with constant companionship?
Bear in mind that time might be of the essence, but it is not enough. Quality time is important, so if the owner is not physically or otherwise able to care for their pet, they shouldn’t get one.
6. Do They Have Enough Room for a Pet?
Space is always a concern when bringing any new additions to the family. The pet will need space for themselves, their bed, toys, food, and so on, not to mention space to move around. So you can see how a large dog in a cramped apartment would be far from ideal.
Speaking of cramped apartments, if the apartment is rented, there’s always the owner to consider. Not all owners allow pets, and if they do, you might end up having to replace some of the furniture your pestilent little devil cat has scratched.
7. Does Anyone in the Family Have Allergies?
Pet allergies are a pain in the ass, and their consequences for pets (read abandonment) are awful. Keep in mind that people might not know they’re allergic, so if you’re not sure of that, just think of some other gift.
8. Who Will Look After the Pet?
This question is important particularly in cases when the owner has to go away for a couple of days. Do they already have a plan and someone they can depend on to care for their pet while they’re away?
9. What Would Happen If They Decide They Don’t Want the Pet?
Finally, you have to consider the most heartbreaking possibility, that of the owner and the pet not being a good fit for whatever reason, and the owner deciding they want to give it away.
I’m sure no one likes the idea of being responsible for the fate of an animal who is abandoned in a shelter after they had just found a family. Consider that your decision can have a serious impact on their well-being.
How to Prepare for Bringing Your New Pet Home (If You End up Getting One)
1. Make Your Home Pet-Friendly
Depending on the pet you want to get, the preparations will differ. Here, I’m not only talking about buying all of the things (food, toys, bed), but also pet-proofing your home in order for your furry baby to be safe.
Think bringing a newborn home, but one that has paws instead of feet. Oh, and one that might chew your belongings, so remember to hide those as well!
- Complete New Puppy Checklist for the Owner to Be - A complete new puppy checklist for people who want to get a dog but don't know where to start.
2. Look for a Reliable Vet
Recommendations are great when it comes to vets, and research will help you make an informed decision. It’s great to already know the vet you want to take your pet to, but be flexible and have more than one option at hand, just in case the first is not a good fit.
3. Choose the Pet’s Personal Space
Before your pet becomes part of your family, you need to decide which areas you want to keep pet-free and which ones will be designated for your pooch/kitten.
While let’s face it, you’ll probably break these rules sometimes when you look into those wide, innocent eyes, it’s important to have clear boundaries established from the very beginning.
4. Divide Tasks Between Family Members
If you’re a large family and everyone wants to get involved, it’s good to designate tasks to each person. Who will be in charge of feeding the cat? Who will take the dog on walks? Who will stay in to look after it when everyone else is out?
5. Make Sure You Get Off on the Right Paw
The first few weeks, if not months, are going to be a period of adjustment, a trial and error if you will. You need to be patient and expect times when your pet will cry and be fussy (this is normal, especially if they’re little).
You just need to make them feel as comfortable as possible, surround them with love, but also give them their space when they need it. Never force interactions with a pet. Introduce it to the people around you and the world gradually, and prepare to train them as necessary.
- How to Raise a Kitten and Avoid Common Mistakes - Alina teaches you how to raise a kitten and keep it healthy and happy based on her experience raising Mura, her gorgeous little tabby.
If You Are Ready to Be a Pet Owner This Year…
…congratulations! You are about to embark on one of the most rewarding and wonderful journeys of your life. Having a pet enriches your life immensely, there’s no denying that.
We don’t want to discourage anybody from getting a pet, we just want to make sure both parties involved have the best possible life.
Hoping that this article has convinced you it is a thousand times better to adopt than to buy, you might also need some resources to get started. In that case, I got you:
Before You Go
Before looking at pets as gifts, consider the information provided above, as well as the many innocent souls that get abandoned every year.
If your mind is made up and you have thought long and hard about your decision, I hope the shelters above can help you find a companion for life.
Don’t forget to share photos of your furry baby down below if you end up getting one! We’re here to support you with necessary advice & tips that can help you through this life-changing journey.
Hi, I’m Andrea and I’m a writer, editor, geek, couch potato, and most importantly, animal lover. I have been proudly owned by my two cats, Sherlock and Smokey, for 2 years, and I am by no means ashamed to admit I am a crazy-cat-lady-to-be. How did my love for animals start, you ask?Read more »