Should you give a pet as a gift?

A dog with curly fur stares at the camera with their tongue out

Movies and TV shows have long depicted pets — especially puppies, kittens, and critters — as a coveted gift for holidays or special occasions. After all, there’s nothing cuter than a puppy in a bow, a kitten in a box, or a rabbit in a basket. 

While the idea of giving a pet as a gift may seem heartwarming, it’s essential to consider these questions first.

1. Does the person want a pet?

This is the most important question of all! While you might get joy from watching your family member or friend receive a pet, it’s critical you first confirm that the individual wants a pet. 

Pets are a big time commitment — even critters like rabbits and guinea pigs — so while your family member or friend might love the idea of a pet, are they ready to accept the responsibilities that come with it? And if the recipient is a child or teenager, are their parents or guardians ready to step in to help care for the pet as needed?

2. Does the person have the time, space, and resources to care for a pet?

Adding a pet to the family is exciting, but it also means change for the recipient’s lifestyle and pocketbook. Factors to consider include future vet bills; ongoing costs for food, toys, and litter; and training classes to set up the pet for success. 

A bunny nibbles at some hay

Some pets may require more space than others, so consider where the recipient lives. Do they live in an apartment that might have a pet surcharge or have rules about what types of animals are allowed? Do they have a fenced-in yard for an energetic dog who loves to run and play? 

Dogs and cats may live up to 15 years or more, and even smaller critters may live longer than you might expect. All animals, even critters like rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats, require daily enrichment and attention. Is the recipient prepared to provide a loving and attentive home for the lifetime of the pet?

All these factors influence what type of pet may work best for the recipient.

3. What is the recipient's lifestyle and the pet's unique needs?

How active is the recipient? Do they travel a lot? Are there any allergies in the home? Is there already a resident pet in the home? Some pets are better suited for outdoor adventuring, while some pets make great couch cuddlers. 

There are also extra considerations for introducing a new pet to a resident pet

Give the gift of an experience

All pets have unique needs and personalities, and the selection process can be a rewarding and fun experience. Instead of surprising someone with an actual pet, consider gifting them the experience of finding a pet together. That way, the recipient has control over what pet they ultimately choose to adopt. 

If you still want to give them something they can unwrap, consider presenting them with a card explaining your gift along with a cute stuffed animal or pet care package. You can also reach out to your local shelter or rescue to see if they offer gift cards.

Alternative gift options for the animal lovers in your life

Not sure gifting a pet is the right option for your family member or friend? Consider other options for the animal lovers in your life, like Paint My Pet experiences, merchandise, and more! 

Explore gift options