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Pets as Gifts: Why a Puppy Under the Tree May Not be a Good Idea

Puppy Sleeping Near a Sunny Window

December 8, 2022 by New Haven Pet Hospital Staff


Those of us who have our lives enriched by animals often want to share the gift of pet ownership. The cliche image of a sweet puppy or kitten with a bow under the Christmas tree is a hard one to resist! Before you consider a pet as a gift this holiday season, though, New Haven Pet Hospital invites you to think over the implications of pets as gifts.

Considerations Regarding Pets As Gifts

Even if the recipient of your generosity is prepared for a new pet, there are some important things to think about before bringing a living thing into the mix. The holidays can be a chaotic time for many homes, and growing the family at that time isn’t always the best choice. 

Think about the following:

  • Holiday plans can keep a home pretty busy, and welcoming a new pet can be time consuming

  • Decorations and festivities can contribute to a higher-than-normal amount of pet hazards

  • Chaotic schedules can make it harder to train a new pet

  • Holiday gatherings and other environmental changes can be stressful for pets

  • Budgets are often tight around the holidays, and a new pet comes with some immediate financial needs

  • Winter weather can make potty training a new puppy a less-than-fun experience

  • Travel plans can throw a wrench into caring for a new critter

Pets as gifts can sometimes be a great choice, but it is not one to be made on the fly. While it may ruin the surprise, it is usually best to discuss the decision with the new pet owner before committing them to the time, effort, and cost of pet ownership. This is only fair to the new bundle of joy in the home.

Costs of Pet Ownership

Talking about finances is never fun, but as a responsible pet owner, understanding the costs of owning a dog or cat is important. Beyond basic needs like food and water, knowing what medical needs the pet might have and budgeting for those is important. How much does a vet visit cost anyways?

A puppy or kitten is likely to have a lot more up front costs in their first year of life, although older pets with specific medical needs may have some extra budgeting necessary as well. Costs of pet ownership are likely to include:

  • Food and treats

  • Supplies such as bowls, collars, toys, etc.

  • Grooming supplies or services

  • Training costs

  • Wellness examination(s)

  • Necessary vaccinations and preventive care

  • Parasite prevention

  • Spay/neuter

  • Microchipping

  • Local registration and licensing

  • Pet insurance

  • Unexpected expenses such as a pet emergency

On average, the cost of owning a dog is about $35,600 throughout the pet’s lifetime, with $4,800 being the average first year expense. The cost to own a cat is a little less at an average of $17,800 lifetime and $3,200 the first year. That is a decent amount of money to thrust on someone without their consent! Animals are a wonderful gift, and just because there are challenges doesn’t mean you can’t still have that bundle of joy under the tree this year. Taking the time to assess the decision from a practical perspective is important, though.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us to further discuss what is needed to properly care for a new pet. We are happy to help you gather the information you need to make a good decision.