Should You Give a Pet as a Gift?

Should You Give a Pet as a Gift?

Pet as a gift

You?ve seen it before (most likely on the big screen): a beautifully wrapped present is placed on the floor, someone goes to pick it up, and it moves! Ah, and then the delight of opening the box to find a furry angel inside! The pet-as-gift is a charming idea for movies and TV shows, but does it make sense to give a pet as a gift in real life?

Why You Might Consider Giving a Pet as a Gift

Do you have a friend who is always talking about how much they want a dog? Or perhaps you have a family member who lives alone, and you just know that a cat would make a perfect companion. Giving a pet as a gift is a well-intentioned act, and indeed very generous -- after all, pets bring such joy and love to their owners. However, while you might be sure that your friend or family member would be delighted to receive a fluffy new friend, they might have a different idea, and it?s important to do your homework before you give.

RELATED STORY: What Are Puppy Mills?

Considerations Before You Give a Pet as a Gift

Here are some things to consider before you give a pet as a gift:
  • Lifespan and health of the pet and pet parent:?The recipient you have in mind should be prepared to care for the pet you give them for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the animal?s age and expected life expectancy. That?s a big time commitment, and all pets need daily care.
  • The annual cost to raise a pet: Pets cost

    money. While you might be covering the cost of buying the pet, the recipient will have to pay for their veterinary care, food,


    , and other


    . Can the recipient afford that, or would they want to?

    • Real estate restrictions: Are there any restrictions that would not allow the recipient to have a pet in their home or apartment? Many landlords, for example, will allow small pets but not large pets, and many require a hefty deposit regardless of the size of the animal.
    • Allergies: Is the recipient allergic to any animals? When in doubt, ask.
    • Pet compatibility: Does the recipient own other animals? Do those animals get along with other animals?
    • Dedication, time and patience: When you see pets given as gifts in movies and TV shows, they are usually pudgy puppies or fuzzy kittens. But puppies and kittens are a lot of work. They require training, time, and plenty of patience. Presenting someone with an adorable baby animal may seem like a sweet idea, but consider what the recipient is in for once the gift giving is over and you?ve gone home.
    • Desire and commitment: Be sure that the recipient wants a pet. Saying ?I love dogs!? is not the same thing as saying ?I want to own a dog, care for it for the next decade, and pay for whatever needs come up!
If you do decide to give a pet, don?t?put it in a closed box, even if the box has breathing holes. The pet could get hurt or become scared, and you don?t want the animal's?first experience with their new owner to be a frightening one.RELATED STORY: Choosing The Right Dog For My Family

Alternatives to Giving a Pet as a Gift

If you still like the idea of giving a pet as a gift but aren?t sure the best way to go about it, consider these alternatives:
    • Give a gift certificate to a local animal shelter or breeder. Adoption is a very personal experience, and most people like picking out their own pet.
    • If you decide to give a gift certificate or money for a new pet but want to find a way to spice up the presentation, consider a care package. Put together supplies that the recipient will need to care for their new pet: food, a leash, toys, a bed, a gift certificate for a first vet visit, etc. That way, they won?t have to worry so much about the details and can start enjoying their new friend right away.
  • Another great item to add to a pet care package? A membership to PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at Would you ever give a pet as a gift? Have you ever received one? Leave a comment and let us know.
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