Things to Know Before You Buy a Pet for Christmas

pet gifts

A lot of people love pets and love to give them as Christmas gifts to themselves, their kids, their family, or their friends. Parents buy pets for their kids, single people adopt a homeless animal for companionship, and friends give their BFF a pet to share the love. But before you up and give someone (including yourself) a pet for Christmas, there are a few things that you should consider first.

Never Gift Someone a Pet Without Prior Consent

If you want to give someone a pet for Christmas you’re going to have to give up the surprise a little bit and ask permission first. Living things can’t be easily returned, and unwanted pets can suffer a lot of confusion from being rehomed multiple times. So make sure the gift recipient of the pet is willing to take on the costs and responsibilities. This is the one type of gift where you really need to have explicit permission from the gift receiver first.

Can the New Pet Owner Afford the Pet?

Pets cost a lot more than the adoption fee and a bag of food. If you are considering getting a pet for Christmas (or giving one to someone else) are you or they financially able to take care of a pet? For a typical cat or dog, average annual costs hover around $1,000. Pets need food, collars, toys, kennels, beds, treats, vaccinations, recurring vet appointments, and so much more. Considering that animals can live up to 15 or 20 years, that adds up to $20,000 over the lifetime of your pet. Costs can be even higher if your pet gets sick or needs extensive training. Just make sure whoever will be taking care of the pet is aware of the financially responsibility and willing to take on that cost.

pet gift

Do Your Research

Make sure you thoroughly do your research before buying a pet. If you’re gifting a pet to someone else, make sure they’ve done their research as well. For instance, it’s recommended that when considering guinea pigs as a pet you should get two because guinea pigs can get lonely. Different dog breeds will come with their own unique challenges and needs. Every animal is going to have lots of information that will need to be researched before the pet is introduced to its new home.

Do You Have the Time?

Pets also take up a lot of time, especially cats and dogs because they are social creatures that crave love and attention. Baby animals need are especially needy the first year or so of their life. A new puppy can make a cute and exciting Christmas gift, but puppies are baby dogs, and like all babies, they require extra work and attention. Puppies need to go outside to use the potty at least every two hours, much like how a human baby needs frequent diaper changes. Puppies are also teething until they’re about 8 months old and will need chew toys and training to learn to munch on their bones and toys instead of human hands and ankles. They’ll also need socialization, crate training, and a lot of other training to become well behaved members of your family and successfully learn all your house rules.

Whatever pet you want to get, it takes time to train them, groom them, play with them, feed them, and clean up after them. Will the animal be left at home alone all day long? Do you travel for days or weeks at a time? A pet will become a full-time member of the family and can’t be ignored like an inanimate Christmas gift. Make sure you have the time to care for your pet as it deserves.

Where Does the New Pet Owner Live?

Also consider your living conditions. Big, boisterous dogs need space to run around and play in. So if you live in a tiny studio apartment you might not want to get a German Shepard unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of time outside each day. You also need to find out first whether landlord allow pets in the building. Think about whether or not an animal would be happy living where you do.

Do You Have the Right Temperament?

As cute as those fluffy little faces are on the first day or two, some people quickly sour toward their pet when they pee on the floor, scratch up the furniture, shed all over your clothes, or whine throughout the night. Make sure you are prepared to handle small catastrophes and learn patience for this cute, but troublesome addition to the family.

Does Anyone That Will Live With the Pet Have Allergies?

It’s always unfortunate when an excited family prepares for and adopts a pet, only to find out a few days later that someone is severely allergic. Before buying a pet determine whether anyone in the household would be allergic to them. Have everyone tested for pet allergies at the doctor’s office, or visit the intended adoptee for extended periods of time to make sure no one will have any allergic reactions to the pet.

Giving Pets to Children

Many children will write Santa this year asking for a puppy or kitten this Christmas. While a pet is a worthy childhood dream, parents should keep a few things in mind when getting a pet for their child, or for the family: You need to decide on a primary caregiver for the new pet before you bring them home. Simply getting a “family pet” often leads to fights about who has to take the dog out or whose turn it is to clean the hamster cage and can leave to a neglected pet. So sit down as a family and have a realistic talk about who the primary owner and caregiver of the pet will be.

If this is going to be one of your children, consider how long the pet will live and decide now whether the child will take the pet with them when they leave home or not. It’s also a good idea to try and test beforehand whether they truly are ready for the colossal responsibility of pet ownership. You can do this buy giving them chores that require a similar level of work, patience, and diligence to see if they can do it or if they get tired and give up.


Hopefully this hasn’t deterred you from adopting a pet this holiday season if you are truly prepared. Many wonderful animals need homes this Christmas season, and just as the pet will be a gift to you, you will be the greatest gift to your new pet so long as you are truly prepared for the cost and responsibility!

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