Giving Pets as Gifts: 5 Things to Consider

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Jane Warren
Jane is an avid watersports fan, who enjoys boating, scuba diving, swimming, and water skiing. She loves to travel, especially to locations where she can participate in water sport activities. Jane also loves animals, and writes articles educating consumers on pet care, and the joys of owning a pet. Now that the kids are grown, she has time for doing the things she enjoys!
Jane Warren
Jane Warren
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Giving Pets as Gifts – Is it a Good Idea?

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” -George Eliot
At the Pet StoreAdorable puppies and cuddly kittens are frequent gifts in movies. These pets are always met with squeals of delight and the gift plan never backfires. In real life, however, giving pets as gifts is a risky venture. Unlike most other gifts, pets require substantial upkeep and, if the gift receiver doesn’t want a pet, your gift could end in needless suffering for an innocent animal. This doesn’t mean that pets are never appropriate as gifts, though. Here are 5 things to consider before giving a pet as a gift:

Does the Recipient Want a Pet?

Before giving a pet, you must be absolutely certain the gift recipient wants a pet. This automatically precludes giving pets–even fish– to people you don’t know well. But if your husband has been talking about getting a dog, your mother wants to replace her dearly departed cat or your best friend is obsessed with birds, a pet might be an appropriate gift. Make sure that you’re giving your loved one the pet they would choose for themselves and not the pet you want!

Can the Person Afford a Pet?

Pets cost much more than the price you pay for the animal itself. Animals require veterinary care, food, toys, cages, training and pet-sitters. Avoid giving a pet to someone who might not be able to afford it. You might think you’re purchasing a dog for someone who would love to have a puppy if money permits. But in reality, you might be sentencing your friend to financial hardship and the dog to inadequate veterinary care.

Are You Giving Pet Supplies?

Regardless of which pet you plan to give, you’ll need to provide the recipient with the supplies she needs to care for the pet for at least a few days. This is especially true if you’re giving a pet around the holiday season, when stores are likely to be closed. If you give a dog, ensure you provide a leash,

target="_blank">puppy pads, food and other necessary supplies. Rodents and reptiles require a cage and adequate lighting and food. Cats need, at minimum, a litter box, kitty litter and food. Giving preliminary supplies along with an animal ensures that the animal doesn’t turn into an immediate source of stress as the gift recipient rushes off to the nearest pet store to buy urgently needed supplies.

Is the Person/Family Responsible?

Pets are unique gifts, because not only do you have to consider whether the recipient will like the gift, but also the effect the recipient will have on the gift itself! You should only give pets to people who have a verifiable history of responsible behavior, particularly responsibility toward animals. Proper pet care requires the gift recipient to budget for unexpected items such as vet bills, dog teeth cleaning products, and pet-sitters. It also requires that the recipient won’t start neglecting the animal when the novelty wears off. For this reason, pets are never appropriate gifts for children unless their parents agree to care for the pet.

Does the Recipient Want You to Choose the Pet?

Many people give pets as gifts to loved ones who were planning on getting a pet anyway. If this is your reason for giving a pet, consider whether the person might want to pick out their own pet. Rather than putting a bow around a puppy for the holidays, try wrapping up pet supplies and then offering to take them pet shopping.

Although pets can make great gifts, it’s important to think of a pet as a long-term companion, rather than a short term thrilling present.

About the Author

Jane Warren is an animal lover who has rescued a variety of critters. Her valuable insights into pets, family and lifestyle topics have provided guidance and assistance to numerous people. Her husband, meanwhile, is convinced that local animals know where they live, as several abandoned animals have shown up at their door! One friend even drove her cat, Nermal, from Texas to give to Jane!  Learn more at