Should Kids Get Pets for Christmas?

There are not a lot of things cuter than a baby puppy or kitten, except for maybe a tiny furball leaping after wrapping paper on Christmas morning as the children squeal and clap with delight at their new living present. That’s right -- a puppy for Christmas!

We have some good family friends that just got their teenage son a sweet little pug puppy for Christmas. The photos on Instagram and FaceBook are completely precious, and it’s obvious the entire family is in love with this ridiculously adorable little girl. 


But isn’t gifting animals for holidays a bad idea? How many abandoned chicks and bunnies at Easter, black cats at Halloween, and puppies at Christmas do we have to hear about before people will stop doing this? Do we all need to watch that awful ASPCA commercial with Sarah McLachlan again? Because I really don’t want to.

Before we jump all over someone’s case for buying their kid a pet for Christmas -- let’s remember that every situation is unique, and sometimes a puppy as a present is a great idea. It all comes down to the motivation.

It is never ok to buy a pet on a whim. Ok, maybe a beta fish. But that’s it! Then you find yourself walking by the pet store in the mall while you’re Christmas shopping, the sweetest set of brown eyes accompanied with the most adorable little pink tongue catches your eye. It looks so cooped up there in that pet shop kennel … couldn’t we just take him home? We’d be rescuing him, and the kids will love him, and it’s Christmas! Try to remember that by buying from a pet store, you’re probably helping to fund cruel puppy mills. Then keep walking.

Unless you’ve worked it out in advance with the parents after careful consideration and planning, never ever buy a pet as a gift for another family. Beta fish included. And even then, this scenario might only be appropriate if you’re a relative or very close family friend that a) breeds dogs responsibly yourself, and you’re gifting one of the litter, or b) have bonded with the children over your own dog, and now with mom and dad’s permission, are presenting them with their very own snuggle puppy. Otherwise -- just no.

The only time puppies or other pets make wonderful, perfect Christmas gifts is when you’ve already made the big decision to adopt a pet, and Christmas provides the opportunity to make it a ‘present.’ That’s what happened in my friends’ case. They had a pug they loved that died of old age last year after a long, happy life. The decision to add to the family again was made carefully, and it just happens that they decided to wait until Christmas to make it happen.

That’s responsible pet parenting.

Have you ever given or been given a live gift?

Image via Madeline Taylor

Read More >