Pets as Christmas Presents: Is it a Good Idea?

by | Pets

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

So you want a pet for Christmas…

 ‘Tis the season when we are all looking for the perfect gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the cuteness of a new little kitten or the thought of your child’s reaction to a new puppy under the tree. But, it’s also important to remember owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. Although, it is one of the most wonderful commitments you can make, be sure the whole family is ready to make it before getting a pet for Christmas. To prepare for that decision, please consider all the factors that go into pet ownership at any time of the year.

Important things to consider:


Pets can be expensive. It is not just the initial cost of an adoption fee, but the ongoing costs of pet ownership that should be considered. These costs include annual veterinarian visits, heartworm, flea and tick preventative, food, supplies (beds, toys, leashes, etc.), and any training your new companion might need. Most shelters and rescues spay and neuter pets prior to adoption, but if adopted elsewhere, this is also a very important and necessary cost to consider. Remember, pets can live 10-15 years or more, and being sure they are cared for properly during their lifetime is a financial commitment.


Do you have space not only in your home, but also in your heart, and in your lifestyle for a pet? You have work, friends, and other commitments, but your pet just has you. They need adequate space, not to be kept in crate or left alone in a confined space for too long. An area for daily walks and proper exercise is important. If pets don’t receive proper exercise and interaction they can become destructive, because they are bored. This is a big reason why dogs/puppies are often returned, and it is not the dog’s fault. In addition, size and type of pet is also a consideration. Remember your little 10lb puppy may become a very big dog depending on the breed. So research the breed and also consider that a cat or other small pet may be a better choice depending on your lifestyle.


According to experts, a dog should not be left alone for more than 6-8 hours at most. For a puppy, it is much less, being 2-4 hours. If pets are left alone too often, they can develop separation anxiety. Dogs are highly social creatures that need to be walked, socialized, and trained. All pets need time for play and fun interactions. A pet’s need for companionship means spending your time, love and attention– even when you’re busy. So it’s important to think of the time commitment. Also, be sure you give you and your pet plenty of time to adjust to new routines.

Ideas for “smart gifting” of a pet around the holidays

After the above considerations have been made, instead of giving a pet as a Christmas gift, here are a couple ideas to bring a pet into the home around the holidays.

  • Wrap up a gift certificate with pet supplies and place it under the tree- If you know someone who really wants a dog or cat and is ready for the responsibility, maybe consider giving a gift certificate for the adoption fee at the local animal shelter or rescue. Wrap the gift certificate up in a food dish and some toys and put them under the tree. Or you could buy a dog bed or cat carrier and wrap it up with a stuffed animal and the gift certificate. After the holidays, you can make a plan to go to the shelter or rescue together and pick out an animal companion who’s just right for the recipient.
  • Plan to Adopt before the holidays- Another idea is to consider adopting a pet prior to the holidays. This will allow the pet (and you!) time to properly settle in and be ready for all the festivities that happen during the holidays. Many shelters and rescues are overflowing, so bringing a pet home prior to the holidays, will allow you to make precious memories during the holidays. That way the pet is already part of the family, not just viewed as a present.

In conclusion

Adopting a pet at any time of the year is a big responsibility.  After carefully considering all the requirements, ask yourself: If it were March 1st or July 15th, or any other time of the year, would I still be adopting a pet?

If the answer is a confident “yes!” Then go to your nearest shelter or reputable animal rescue and bring a pet home for the holidays! Not as a present, but as a loving family member, for this holiday, and many holidays for years to come.

By, Melissa Shoemaker, Volunteer 

Melissa spent almost 30 years in financial services, but now volunteers with Piedmont Animal Rescue (PAR)  located at 228 E. Waterlynn Road in Mooresville. PAR’s motto is “Where Animals Come First.” She also enjoys cooking, the beach, spending time with friends and family- and of course, with her two spoiled dogs, Piglet and Nugget. Melissa may be reached at 704-905-5090 or 

Guide for Family Pets

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