Pets as Gifts: How to Avoid a Return Policy

Little funny spitz with bow tie inside gift box; gift pet concept

The holiday season is right around the corner! What better way to surprise your loved ones than with the gift of a new best friend? Every year, hundreds of people unwrap puppies and kittens under the Christmas tree. Gifting a pet can be an unforgettable memory.

However, there are many factors to consider prior to picking out a new companion animal, especially if you’re shopping on behalf of someone else. A living creature is a lifelong responsibility, no matter how cute and adorable. No one wants this year’s best present ever to become next year’s buyer’s (or gifter’s) remorse. It’s a heart breaking reality that 6.5 million companion animals are surrendered to shelters nationwide each year. The reasons for re-homing or surrendering a beloved pet range from lifestyle changes to financial struggles.

One often seen reason for the vast number of shelter pets is simply unpreparedness.

So before you’re tempted by those big, sad puppy eyes, take a look at these 5 factors to consider prior to giving a pet as a gift.

1.) Pet Parent or Pass?

First things first; determine whether your prospective pet parent is seriously interested in the possibility of owning a furbaby. Have they spoken about wanting to add a pet the household as more than just a passing whim? Remember that liking animals isn’t necessarily the same as wanting to take on the responsibility of caring for a cat, dog, or exotic.

Pay attention to what research they’ve done in advance as a good indicator of whether they’re ready for a pet.

While a gift pet can be a sensitive topic, the ASPCA has reported that 86% of gifted pets remain with their intended owners. This means more pet parents are enjoying life with their four-legged companions and more dogs and cats are staying out of shelters.

2.) Know Your Audience

A pet is, above all, not the gift for an acquaintance. If you don’t know your recipient well, it’s best to opt for a plush pet instead of the real deal. It’s a good rule of thumb to think long and hard before springing a tail wagging surprise on someone.

For instance, consider who will ultimately be responsible for the pet. If you’re thinking of surprising your kids with the puppy they’ve always wanted, it’s safe to assume you and your spouse have discussed taking on the bulk of the responsibilities associated with pet parenthood. However, this may be a different story if you’re considering surprising your nieces and nephews!

Ensure everyone involved is okay with the idea of a new pet prior to wrapping up a box and bow. Even if you’re purchasing a pet for a grown-up recipient, it’s a good idea to get some insight first. In fact, ask their friends, family, or spouse for opinions to make sure your gift will be well-received.

3.) Budget Friendly

Kitten purrs and puppy cuddles are free, but caring for a companion animal is a lifelong commitment; one which can add up quickly! Don’t surprise your friends and family with an unexpected financial burden. Consider whether the recipient of your furry gift can afford to care for the animal for the entirety of its life. Think about timing in terms of job status, upcoming lifestyle changes, and any other factors that may play a role in determining a stable forever home.

Feeling the spirit of the season? If you’re embracing the vibes of generosity this holiday, it’s a great idea to purchase a “new pet starter pack” to go along with your surprise companion. Including gift certificates for puppy and kitten wellness plans, first round of vaccinations, and obedience training classes can get them off to a good start.

4.) Friends for Life

Think about scheduling a pet around our busy lives. Exercise, attention, love and care all take up lots of time and energy! Is your friend or family member suited to providing the level of commitment needed? Consider which kind of pet would best suit their lifestyle and do some research on different breeds.

Many well-meaning animal lovers gift small pets and exotics under the assumption that these animals are easier to care for and require less of a commitment than a dog or cat. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Rabbits can easily live up to 10 years and even hamsters and gerbils require an enriching habitat, frequent cleaning, and routine handling by their human friends in order to bond appropriately.

Exotics, such as sugar gliders, birds, and lizards, are an even bigger commitment, often requiring highly specific diets, dedicated bonding and playtime throughout the entirety of their often long lifespan, and an experienced exotic pet vet for routine care and emergencies.

Cats are often the best pets for homebodies and are often a good first pet due to their independence and natural cleanliness. Do a little snooping prior to surprising your soon to be pet parent in order to determine which companion is the perfect match.

5.) Re-gifting is the Best Gift

While many animal lovers urge against gifting pets (and with good reason), there are many ways to do so responsibly. If you’ve considered the above tips and decided that your holiday gift is going to have ears and a tail this year, the next step is picking out the perfect companion. Consider visiting your local animal shelter.

Shelters have a broad range of pets to choose from who are desperately searching for their forever family. Older cats and dogs make excellent, low maintenance companions for those with busy lifestyles. Older pets are often housebroken and may even know basic obedience skills!

Kittens, puppies, and even exotics and small pets can be found in many city shelters as well. Furry friends are the best gift to give preowned! Opting to adopt is a great way to pay it forward and make a homeless pet’s holiday a little merrier.

You might also try browsing local classifieds and sites like for more animals seeking furrever families.

Looking for more educational resources on new pet ownership? Contact our friendly experts today and have a purrfect holiday season!

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james rawe
james rawe
posted 1 week ago

Thank you to Dr. Jacob Mathias!! Every visit is exceptional and makes us and our fur babies feel like family. He even takes the time to warm up to our dog who is very nervous around men. Thank you to the support staff as well! I will always refer Tipp City Veterinary Hospital!! You guys are outstanding!!

Emily Davis
Emily Davis
posted 1 month ago

I revisited Tipp Vet after a long stint with my previous vet that ended in me just not feeling comfortable with the level of care my two small breeds were receiving. I definitely don’t feel this way here. They are exceptionally understanding and helpful with all of my concerns, and Dr. Ken even provided me with his email once so that he could help me further understand some test results he had given me. They are very understanding with my small adopted dog that needs to be muzzled when I bring him to them. They work very slowly with him during his visits and keep me updated on his progress there. I can’t recommend them enough!

William Pittl
William Pittl
posted 2 months ago

The staff were very helpful in getting our girl Precious in after extreme vomiting and diarrhea. And also, they have been FANTASTIC on following up on checking to see how she is doing. Thank you so much. It means a lot when you LOVE our baby as much as we do🧡🐕

Mary Brannan
Mary Brannan
posted 1 month ago

Once I knew I needed to change vets after a bad experience with helping my cat at the end of her life I found Tipp City Vet and i have been thankful ever since. When my rescue kitty was lethargic and hot to the touch they got her right in, she had spend a few days in the hospital and they called to keep me updated and let me go in and spend quality time with her and I could tell they were taking great care of her. It has been a couple of years since then and she is doing great and the staff is always welcoming and the Drs give out great advice and always gives options which I appreciate. They are in the midst of a remodel and expanding their daycare and exam areas. It is really great to see they are growing in the community and always have the patients and parents best interests. I have never had any bad service here and highly recommend them.

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