Should Kids Get Pets for Christmas?

Love & Learn 24

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

pets, christmas


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Vegeta Vegeta

Don't ever buy a dog at a mall. Too many people I know have gotten very sick diseased dogs, probably products of puppy mills, at mall pet stores. Also fish are one of the most expensive time consuming pets to take on. Most people just figure throw it in a bowl and it will only be around a week or so (goldfish get huge and can live up to 20+ years) Beta fish shouldn't be kept in tiny bowls. If you've been thinking about getting a pet and know you have the time and resources then Christmas can be the outlet but don't get one just because.

clp0930 clp0930

Pets are a terrible Christmas gift. I got a dog when i was 14. I don't even like dogs. Fortunately my mom loved the dog, 10 years later lilia is still going strong.

Roxygurl Roxygurl

I was given a kitten at 12 so by the time I was out on my own she was a senior cat with health problems and she was totally my responsibility and pretty expensive vet bills for an older adult let alone a 20 something just starting out.

Animals should never ever be a gift for a child.

kelti... kelticmom

We are getting my son a guinea pig for Christmas, but only because he has asked for a pet for a year and we've put a lot of thought into what to get him. Now my mother in law gave my sister in law's kids two kittens for Christmas. My sister in law HATES cats, and she is an OCD neat freak (like me). She was so upset, she wouldn't speak for two hours. How do you take kittens away from little kids at Christmas when their Mawmaw gave them to them? I am glad I am not in her shoes!

rayra... rayraycoops

Everyone should get a pug.

nonmember avatar blue

I think if it's something that has been discussed thoroughly in the past, it's fine. Expectations, responsibilities, cost, etc. If the parents have discussed this as a family and have already decided to get a pet, then the timing doesn't really matter. Impulse pets for gifts, big no.

kajira kajira

I don't see an issue with getting a pet as a christmas present as long as everyone is on board with the situation and understands what they are doing.

ashes... ashes2ashes831

My children are getting a Guinea pug. Ours passed away 2 months ago after 5 1/2 years. We wanted to wait until we found a younger one and just found one 2 days ago! However a dog ect I agree shouldn't be bought on a whim. We know after this long the guineas fit our family and ours was an amazing pet, so we decided we'd eventually get another so I was ecstatic we found one right before Christmas :) perfect gift for my children and me of course!

Lilyp... Lilypad523

Great post, couldn't agree more. My fiancé and I are a young couple who have wanted a dog for a while, but with him in grad school, my student loans, plus monthly living expenses, we didn't have much to spare in the way of start up vet fees, shots, etc. Plus, if the dog ever got ill we could never afford the vet bill, which would be so unfair to the dog. So when my mother in law gave me a puppy last week, I was shocked. Then I found out he came with a "medical trust fund." All vet bills, shots, emergencies, etc would be covered by "grandma" and my fiancé and I would cover food, treats, toys, etc., which isn't all that much since it takes him about three months to go through a bag of dog food. It was a win-win for me!!! I'm glad, though, that my fiancé thought to add expenses to our budget and that my MIL has us covered in case of emergencies.

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