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Giving Pets as Gifts: Consider the Choice Carefully

Giving Pets as Gifts: Consider the Choice Carefully

When the holiday season is upon us and the flurry of shopping takes over, we might be tempted to get a pet for someone on our list.

Pets can bring joy and companionship into someone’s life, but they are also a responsibility. They require time, energy, and money in order to be cared for properly.

It is important to remember that the main reason animals are abandoned or taken to shelters is because they are unwanted.

Consider the following before giving a pet as a gift

  • Does the person want a pet?
  • Can the person afford a pet? Ongoing expenses for a pet include: food, bedding, litter, leash, toys, licenses, grooming, regular and emergency veterinary care, and, possibly, pet insurance. The ASPCA estimates the annual cost for these items at $1,400 per year for dog and $1,150 per year for a cat. Of that amount, annual veterinary expenses can range from about $140 for a cat to $185 for a dog, plus preventive medications. The cost of an annual dental cleaning is not included.
  • Does the person have room for a pet? If you are thinking about giving a dog, does the recipient have a fenced yard?
  • Does the person have time to properly train and care for a pet?
  • Is the person allergic to animals?
  • Is the recipient allowed to have a pet in their home? Will they have to pay a pet deposit?
  • Will the person have to make a drastic lifestyle change to accommodate the pet?
  • Does the recipient have the time to properly care for a pet? Average time required for minimum daily care can range from 30 to 60 minutes for a cat to 1 hour or more for a dog.
  • Are they ready to care for a new pet during the cold, wet winter months? During cold weather, puppies and kittens should not be left outside for extended periods and should not sleep outside. Pets who live primarily outside require proper care and shelter from the elements.

The best home for a pet is a home for life


If, after giving much thought to these questions, you still think a pet would make a good fit, consider doing some research to find out which animal might make the best pet for that person.

Also, consider waiting until after the holiday rush so that you can take the person with you to pick out the pet. Your recipient will get the pet he or she wants, and the animal will go home to a much more welcome and calm environment. 

Talk with your veterinarian if you have any questions about getting someone you know a pet as a holiday gift. 

Updated: December 5, 2022