Most individuals would readily agree that one of the best things about giving gifts to others is watching them experience the ultimate surprise. This is probably why giving pets as gifts is so wildly popular–after all, few things are more surprising than unexpectedly receiving a cuddly new companion. However, while pet gifting can certainly be wonderful for both the recipient and the pet in many instances, there are also some instances where it doesn’t work out too well, and this can be difficult for everyone involved. So if you are considering pet gifting and in order to ensure that pet gifting results in a happy pet and owner, you should always carefully consider a few key things first.

5 Things to Consider Before Giving Pets as Gifts

  1. Does the individual truly want the pet? Some individuals will comment on how kittens or puppies are cute, or even on how they wish they had a kitten or puppy, without truly desiring to own one. Making the mistake of gifting an individual a pet when they don’t actually want the responsibility of owning one can make the entire experience unpleasant for you, the recipient and the pet. Where an individual is actually making plans to bring a pet into their life, such as buying pet supplies and reviewing adoption policies at a local animal shelter, your gifted pet is more likely to be well-received.
  2. Can the individual afford a pet?  It’s certainly true that some pets may be less expensive to care for than others, but all pets require some basics that cost money. According to the ASPCA, the minimum cost of humane care for cats and dogs during the first year of ownership is around $1,000. Where an individual loves pets but cannot afford a pet, giving pets as gifts may place them in the difficult position of wanting to keep something they cannot afford to properly care for.
  3. Can they take care of a pet? A vital part of a pet owner’s relationship with their pets includes the time they spend taking care of their pet. This includes feeding them and interacting with them. A dog and its owner will spend lots of time together exercising, playing and just closely interacting and bonding, so you need to consider whether the recipient actually has this time to give. You also need to verify whether they are permitted to have a pet, or the intended gift pet, where they live. Many apartment complexes and home owner’s associations have breed restrictions, and will not permit residents to own certain types of pets.
  4. Is anyone in the recipient’s household allergic to pets? Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for individuals to suffer from dog or cat allergies, and while the intended recipient himself may not suffer, someone in his household may. If you aren’t sure about whether anyone in the household may be allergic to pets, you shouldn’t gift a pet to that household.
  5. Is it the right time to gift a pet? While the holiday season may seem like the best time to gift a pet, it may actually be the worst time. A new pet and his owner will need time to bond with one another, getting to know one another and establishing a stable routine. The holiday season may not provide enough opportunity for the recipient to bond with his new pet and establish any necessary training routines, especially if they are traveling or visiting parties. In this case, it may be better to give pets as gifts at a different time of year.

Some individuals have met with great success in undertaking a “non-surprise” pet gifting experience. Instead of bringing a pet directly to the recipient, they bring the intended recipient to an animal shelter to look at adoptable pets and then reveal that the adoption fee is on them. This can give the intended recipient not only a chance to indicate whether they are willing to make the commitment necessary to owning a new pet, but also the opportunity to be part of selecting their new companion.