Pets As Christmas Gifts – Think Before You Buy


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If you have an animal-mad child or partner, the idea of getting pets as Christmas gifts can seem like a wonderful gesture. After all, who wouldn’t be thrilled with the gift of an adorable puppy or new feline friend for Christmas?

While a new furry, scaly, hairy or feathery family member can definitely make the right person ecstatic beyond belief, it’s really important to do your research beforehand. If you’re not 100% sure that the gift recipient will be completely committed to their new pet, it’s better to stick to socks and chocolate.

Pets aren’t just for Christmas

New Zealand’s leading no-kill animal shelter, HUHA NZ, says that after Christmas they receive an increased number of calls from people needing to give up their pets. That’s when new pet parents realise the additional costs and level of commitment involved.

Given the pet ownership similarities between Australia and New Zealand, this could very likely be the case here too.

HUHA founder Carolyn Press McKenzie advises, “People busting to give someone a pet should consider giving a gift voucher from an animal shelter instead. Any good shelter will refund them if the gift recipient realises they’re not ready to own a pet.”

Pets as Christmas gifts – pros and cons

Still thinking a Christmas pet might make for a great gift? You’ll need to be sure your gift recipient is able to care for the new addition. There are lots of ways having a pet changes your life.

Evening cuddles on the couch and a welcoming committee every time you open the door are some of the more welcome changes. However, many people struggle to adjust to other elements of pet ownership.

If you’re thinking of getting a dog for Christmas, for instance, will you be able to ensure it will be well fed and cared for? If the gift recipient travels often, do they have the funds for kennel boarding or a pet sitter?

Think about these things when deciding if giving the gift of pets for Christmas is the sensible thing to do.

Potential downfalls

It’s hard for animal-lovers to understand how animals could sometimes be seen as a burden or a chore, rather than part of the family. Hopefully, the person you’re thinking about getting a dog or cat for Christmas for is already a confirmed lover of animals. Even then though, personal circumstances can make pets as Christmas gifts a poor choice.

Keep in mind that:

1. Pets are for life

Pets aren’t just for Christmas gifts. They’re for life. Expect that they’ll be part of the family for 15-20 years.

2. Pets require planning

Does the person you’re planning on getting a cute new dog, cat, or bird for like to live spontaneously? Like the arrival of human children, a new pet can often cause big lifestyle changes. No more spontaneous weekends away or letting a brunch turn into a big night without someone else to feed and let them in and out.

Remember that the recipient’s current living situation may not even allow pets. And a pet can also make it difficult for them to find a rental home down the track.

3. Pets cost money

There’s no way around it – pets cost money. If you buy pets for Christmas gifts, you could be putting someone under financial strain unknowingly. Sometimes, this financial strain can be difficult to handle. Vet bills are one of the most obvious costs, though pet insurance can help to alleviate these.

Vet bills aside though, there are still other costs associated with owning animals. Recent PD Insurance research shows the most common spend on pets each year – excluding vet bills – is $1,000-2,500 (27% of respondents). This is followed by $500-1,000 (26%) then less than $500 (24%). 18% spend $2,500-$5,000 every year outside vet bills.

This covers items like toys, kennels, food, grooming, and other essentials.

4. Pets need love and attention

Getting a pet for Christmas only to realise the new fur baby can’t be given adequate training, care, and attention would be unfair to the pet. Cats are arguably less demanding, but still need someone to attend to their needs. Dogs require training and regular exercise on top of love and attention.

Does your partner, family member, or friend work long hours? Can/will they give their new pet plenty of time and attention? If not, the pet will be the one that suffers.

pets in christmas gift boxes - small tabby kitten

When it’s right

Of course, there are plenty of ecstatic people who get pets as Christmas gifts each year. Most are excellent pet parents. For the right person, who’s fully aware of the commitment required, then getting that cat or dog for Christmas might just make their year.

Still convinced that a pup or kitten might make the perfect Christmas gift? Consider looking into adopting a pet from a shelter like Second Chance Animal Rescue in Victoria or the Animal Welfare League of NSW. That way, you can avoid puppy scams or puppy mills. And, you’ll have made Christmas super special for more than one deserving soul!

Introducing a pet into a loving family for the rest of their lives is one of the greatest presents you can give. However, giving a pet to someone unprepared to put in the time, money and effort to fully experience the joy of a fur baby can end up in truly sad circumstances for the animal.

Before making the decision, be 100% sure that your gift will receive ample love and care. It will no doubt give the same in return.

Pet insurance for Christmas pets

If you’re considering going down the ‘pets as Christmas gifts’ route and are convinced that your recipient will provide a nurturing home for years to come, then why not go all out and gift pet insurance as part of the package?

Pet insurance helps alleviate financial pressure on the owners. It means that the new pet will be able to receive quality medical care when it’s needed. Plus, we give one or more months of free insurance to those who sign up online.

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