Is it ever a good idea to give a pet as a Christmas present?

Christmas is fast approaching which means that, unless you’ve been particularly organised, you’re in the midst of buying presents for friends and loved ones.

However, after years of warnings about how ‘a dog is for life not just for Christmas’ the thought of giving a pet as a present will not even enter a lot of people’s heads – and with good reason.

Below are some of the questions you should think very carefully before buying an animal as a present at any time of the year, not just at Christmas…

Does the person actually want a pet?

While you may have had chats with them where they spoke warmly about the idea of getting a pet, what you may have interpreted as a big hint, may simply have been them dreaming about a picture postcard future in a big country house with a sheep dog, rather than a genuine desire to get a pet right now.

Are they physically able to own a pet?

Many medical conditions aren’t immediately obvious. While a person may appear fit and healthy, underlying medical conditions – or even allergies to cats, dogs and other animals – may prevent them from being able to own a pet.

Can they afford to keep a pet?

While you may feel you know the person well (particularly if they are a relative), you may not be aware of their financial situation, things like food and cat or dog insurance all cost money and owning a dog, cat or another animal is a big commitment even when you are able to afford it – if money is tight then having another mouth to feed probably isn’t what they need.

Do they own any other pets?

While already owning a pet means the person is undoubtedly an animal lover, it doesn’t mean they – or their pet – are ready for another one. You need to be sure their existing pets will get on with the new arrival which, unless you know them as well as the owner, you can never be sure of.

Is it the right time for them to have a pet?

While they may want a new pet and know how to look after one, are you sure it’s the right time? Maybe they are going on a long holiday? Perhaps there will be months of late nights at the office? Are they considering moving home? All of these things can affect whether people are ready for a new pet.

Do they have the time to own a pet?

On a similar theme, do they already have full lives? While you may think the addition of a pet to the house would be a brilliant thing, early morning walks with their new dog or evenings letting the cat back in the house may be the last thing they want at this moment in their life.

Are children aware of the responsibilities of pet ownership?

The thought of a child coming down the stairs on Christmas morning to find an impossibly cute puppy or kitten waiting for them under the tree may be a great image, but is the child aware of the responsibilities of owning a pet? Getting a pet for a child needs plenty of consideration and education – it’s not something you can spring on them without warning.

Have you ever given a pet as a present? Do you think it can sometimes be a good idea? Let us know in the comments section below…