Should You Give a Pet as a Gift?

Should You Give a Pet as a Gift?

Pet as a gift

Youโ€™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 itโ€™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:ย 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 animalโ€™s age and expected life expectancy. Thatโ€™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 youโ€™ve gone home.
    • Desire and commitment: Be sure that the recipient wants a pet. Saying โ€œI love dogs!โ€ is not the same thing as saying โ€œI 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, donโ€™tย put it in a closed box, even if the box has breathing holes. The pet could get hurt or become scared, and you donโ€™t want the animal'sย 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 arenโ€™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 wonโ€™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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