Thinking About A New Pet for Christmas?

Merritt Milam | December 5, 2019

Please Read This First!

The Christmas season seems to arrive earlier every year along with additional pressure to find the perfect gift. Store decorations are up and advertisers have already started running holiday commercials, using images of happy families, twinkling decorations, and adorable puppies or fluffy kittens. After all, who doesn’t like cuddly puppies or soft furry kittens? Advertisers use puppies and kittens because they make an emotional connection with buyers. Couple these sweet animal pictures with the gift-giving season and the result is one of the biggest times of the year when pets become presents.


Unfortunately, just after the holidays many of these “gifts” are abandoned or surrendered to shelters because families are not ready or willing to take care of the new pet. Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about giving a pet for Christmas.


Whose Gift Is It Really?
Do you have a senior parent you “think” needs a companion to keep them company? How about children you’re convinced would love a soft, cuddly pet under the Christmas tree? Maybe you’re the one who has visions of taking long walks or playing in the park with your new best friend. Make sure you really think through this life-changing decision first. Remember, not everyone wants to be surprised by a pet as a gift.


Are You (or your gift recipient) Ready for a Pet?
Regardless of what time of year someone receives a pet as a present, it’s important that they are ready and prepared to handle the responsibility. Consider the following:

• Pets require regular feeding, exercise, potty training, grooming, and lots of attention. Who is responsible for the pet…children or adults?
• The pet may be home alone during the day. Is there a safe, secure area prepared with ample space?
• Pets are a financial investment. Is the person or family ready for the regular vet visits, food, toys, bedding, etc., required for the pet’s health and happiness?

Before you buy that furry Christmas gift, make sure you actively involve the person receiving the gift. They will appreciate the opportunity to decide on such an important life-long decision.


Choosing the Right Pet
Once you’re confident the “pet-as-a-present” concerns are satisfied, it’s now time to do your research on which type and breed is best suited for the family and home. Here are several important things to consider when choosing your new pet.

• Activity and Exercise Needs
This applies to your pet choice as well as and you. It’s one thing for the pet to be active but it also requires you to be ready and able to get up and move, too.
• Size
When choosing between a large or small animal consider the size of the house, pet’s activity level, sleeping accommodations, and training needs.
• Personality
Some pets are everybody’s friend and others limit their loyalty to their alpha owner. Consider how much interaction the pet will have with others. In either case, training is strongly recommended. Training can help provide many important life skills for your pet’s health and well-being. Our Wags training page has helpful information.
• Puppy or Senior Pet
Most people are smitten by an adorable puppy but don’t sell a senior dog short. They may already be housebroken, crate trained, and much calmer.
• Adoption or Breeder Pet
Adopting a dog or cat is a great way to help deserving pets get a second chance to make lifetime memories. Most shelter and rescue pets are already spayed or neutered, and house/crate trained. Adopting a pet can also be less expensive than a purebred dog. For more information on available rescue pets check out the Wags Rescue page.


As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when a pet is a potential Christmas gift. The idea of an adorable purring kitten or a puppy dog that never stops wagging its tail is hard to resist. However, pets are a lifetime commitment. If your gift recipient or your family is not ready and willing to care for a pet, maybe a nice sweater is a better gift.