Pets as Christmas gifts | why this isn't a good idea

Author picture Jessica

Can you give a pet as a Christmas gift?

It isn't a good idea to give a pet as a gift for Christmas. At Pawshake, we totally understand the temptation: a kitten or a puppy can be irresistible! Furthermore, you might even think you are doing a favour by gifting a cute furry friend. For example, if you are looking to purchase a rescue pet,  or if you think the receiver loves animals.   

However, as any good pet owner or sitter will know, owning a pet it's not all sunshine and rainbows. On the contrary, there is a lot of work involved. In addition, owning a pet can be quite expensive with a lot of hidden costs involved, such as food, medication and equipment. And as we know at Pawshake, it can be tricky to find someone to look after your pet when you go away on holiday. Pet sitting can help to ease the burden, but this may not be financially viable for the gift recipient.

Why shouldn't you give a pet as a Christmas gift?

Unfortunately, many pets are surrendered to shelters after being given as gifts at Christmas time. The gift recipient may not be ready to make the commitment to own a pet which, sadly, leads to a high risk of abandonment. 

Likewise, if the individual is not ready to own a pet, they may not give it the care and attention that it needs. This can lead to issues with behaviour and separation anxiety, increasing the risk that the pet may be abandoned.

Any of these experiences can be very stressful for an animal, which needs a stable home environment to feel safe. Pet ownership is for life, not just for Christmas. As such, please remember that a furry friend will be around for many years to come and this needs to be factored into changing life circumstances. For example, moving house, changing work hours, moving into different life stages and financial ups and downs. It’s impossible to know the full picture of another person’s feelings and circumstances, which is why this decision shouldn’t be made for anyone other than the person themselves.

There may be instances where a parent gets a puppy for their children to care for, or adult children get a rescue cat for their elderly parents. As kind as this may seem, this is not taking the needs of the pet into account. It may be a recipe for disaster if your parents or children are not capable or fully invested in caring for the pet.

Kitten in Christmas tree

When is it OK to get a pet at Christmas time?

If everyone is on board and has considered the decision, it may be ok to gift a pet at Christmas. Your loved one may have thought it through and really want a pet! As long as there are no surprises, there is a good chance that things will work out. Read more about adopting a pet here.

Instead of a new pet, you may want to suggest that your loved one fosters a pet first. This will allow them to experience pet ownership and make a more informed decision about adopting a pet. Alternatively, you could donate to an animal welfare organisation as a Christmas gift on behalf of your loved one.

In the meantime, there are loads of pet sitters on Pawshake who can help when you go on holiday. Visit the Pawshake home page and enter your suburb into the search bar to see who is nearby.