Show Your Love: Opt-Out of Giving a Pet as a Gift

Sad dog in Santa hat.

Who wouldn’t be charmed by a puppy or kitten popping out of a holiday gift box complete with a bright red bow on top? From cartoons to commercials, this holiday trope seems as old as time. And while pet adoptions that start this way can work out terrifically, giving a pet as a gift to someone else, sadly, doesn’t always have wonderful results. The good news is that you can contribute in other ways to the overall health and happiness of everyone involved. 

Why This Matters

Pet adoption is a huge decision, and a highly personal choice. Pet owners often say that when they first met their pet, they knew they were meant for them. This immediate bond goes a long way toward easing the somewhat uphill battle that is getting to know one another. When someone makes this type of choice for another person, it isn’t always clear or guaranteed if or when an attachment will develop between the animal/gift and the person/recipient.  

The Responsible Party

If you give a pet as a gift, it is crucial that you assume all the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Since the long term health and wellness of the animal is at stake, gift givers must face the fact that many well-intentioned gifts are actually not successful. Giving a pet as a gift can lead to surrendering them to a shelter if things don’t work out, or re-homing them in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Giving a Pet as a Gift to a Child

If your child asks/begs for a pet as a gift this holiday season, only give in if you are willing to provide for this pet as their owner. Sure, your kid will happily pick up any slack in the snuggle or playtime departments, but all other pet-related chores will come down to you. Plus, they will need various medical treatments and support over their entire lifetime which can extend a decade or more.

So, if you’re giving a pet as a gift this holiday season, congratulations! You’ve just sealed the deal on being the pet’s true guardian. This situation can definitely be successful, and we’re here to help your family’s new addition in any way. 


If you know someone on your gift list that wants a pet, help them out this holiday season by contributing to the cause. Give them a gift card to a pet store so they can acquire necessary gear or supplies when the time is right. You could also give them a certificate to a shelter, rescue, veterinary hospital, or groomer to help absorb some of the early associated costs. 

If the recipient is under 12, give them a stuffed animal that resembles the pet they want and print out a voucher that says you’ll help them when their parents approve/assume all the responsibilities of the pet. 

You could also make a donation to your local shelter or animal non-profit in the name of the recipient. 

A Big Commitment

Giving a pet as a gift can certainly be a big hit at holiday time, but can also complicate things for the recipient’s family, lifestyle, or living situation. If you need help with this issue, please call us at (210) 696-1700. 

From all of us at Ten West Bird & Animal Hospital, have a safe and happy holiday season.