Gifting a puppy or a kitten for Christmas is a long-standing tradition in the United States. And why wouldn’t it be? A new pet brings joy to a household: Kids get the friend of a lifetime while parents love the laughter pets bring to their everyday routines. While this is a joyous idea, gifting pets for the holidays can cause stress on a family’s daily life and finances.
A puppy is a lifelong commitment. If you’re considering gifting your favorite human one, here’s what you should consider.
What to Consider Before Gifting a Dog
According to the ASPCA, more than 86% of families who received a pet as a gift kept it after the holiday season.3 This may dispel the myth that folks often give up puppies after the holidays, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the possibility that you may not be able to handle the responsibility. After all, this data means that around 14% of those gifted pups were not kept. There are a few things to keep in mind to be sure your family is ready for the commitment.
Consider your family’s lifestyle
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to give your family a puppy as a gift, an important thing to think about is the kind of puppy you get. Every breed of dog is different. While French bulldogs are very popular gifts and make excellent family pets, they aren’t for everyone. Think about the family’s lifestyle: Are they outdoorsy? Do they enjoy Netflix binges over an evening at the dog-friendly brewery? Here are some other questions to ask yourself when choosing a puppy:
- Can you commit to at least 15 years of caring for an animal?
- Do you have experience with dogs?
- What are your schedules like?
- Do you have kids under the age of 12?
Once you know that you can manage a dog with your lifestyle, it’s important to consider the financial impact of a dog.
Check your finances
Dogs are expensive. The cost to own a dog can range from a few hundred dollars a year to a few thousand, and you can expect the higher end in your pup’s first year of life due to vaccinations and purchasing supplies. Before you impulsively buy a pet, it’s always good to monitor your finances to be sure you and your family are prepared to spend the required amount to keep this new family member happy and healthy beyond the holiday season.
Keep the dog’s well-being in mind
The dog is the most important character of this story, especially on Christmas Day. If you’ve decided to give your family a puppy on Christmas, the pup will likely be overwhelmed by this experience. Be mindful of how you handle them. Avoid putting the puppy in a box; instead, opt for a basket or a collar with a bow.
All the noise of the holidays may overwhelm the young dog. If possible, give the new pet parents a leash, toy, or another dog item as the initial reveal. Bring the puppy out after the screams are done to avoid scaring a tiny dog.
Reasons Not To Gift a Holiday Puppy
There are several reasons why a puppy may not be a good idea as a gift. Firstly, if you and your family are first-time dog owners, a puppy is a big undertaking. Puppies require a lot of care and attention that you may be unprepared for.
Second, families with young kids may not have the time for a puppy. The ASPCA recommends that parents of children under the age of 12 should be prepared to accept a new pet because the care of the dog will fall to the adults.3 After the holiday glow dims, the adults may find that the puppy isn’t going to work with their schedules. The puppy may become confused by the sudden change in routines and develop adverse behaviors, like separation anxiety.
Lastly, if you choose to buy a purebred dog, you may not be able to find the dog you want. Breeders usually have puppies available in the spring and summer months. Others may not be willing to sell puppies during the holidays because they won’t have time to screen the owners before the sale. Responsible breeders ask a lot of questions before handing their puppies over to a buyer..
Alternatives to Puppies
Still want to give your family or someone you love a friend for life? There are other ways to get the same result besides gifting a puppy on Christmas. Consider some alternatives to a Christmas puppy like:
1. Animal shelter gift certificates
Many animal shelters and humane societies offer gift certificates for the holidays. You can purchase this wonderful gift to cover the initial adoption costs for new pet parents. This way, you can allow your family or the family you’re gifting the opportunity to hand-pick the dog they want. You’ll find joy in knowing the family's kids will be excited to choose their future dog.
Still want to give something festive? Try creating a puppy basket! Creative gift-givers will enjoy decorating a beautiful basket. Here are some items to possibly include:
- A leash
- A collar
- An animal shelter gift certificate
- A picture of their dream dog
- Dog toys
- A bully stick
2. An adult dog
Consider an adult dog or a senior dog instead of a puppy. Adult dogs’ personalities are set in stone, making it easier to determine if they can blend into the family’s routine. Senior dogs are just as fun, loving, and cuddly as a puppy. Don’t overlook these animals on your hunt for a dog to give this holiday season.
3. A small pet
If you want to teach children responsibility before undertaking a puppy or an adult dog, small pets may be a great option. Consider giving children a fish to take care of. While they’re low-maintenance animals, they still require a level of care and responsibility that children can learn before receiving a dog.
Gift Your New Family Member Pet Insurance
A new puppy for Christmas can be the beginning of a beautiful story of friendship. If done correctly, you can give someone a companion who brings them joy long after the holiday season ends. Be sure to pick a puppy that matches the recipient's lifestyle and budget. When in doubt, offer them a gift certificate or a puppy basket instead. Don’t forget that senior dogs are ready and available to love them. After all, they’re puppies at heart!
While you’re crafting your puppy basket, be sure to include information about dog insurance. At MetLife Pet Insurance, winner of the “Pet Insurance of the Year” Award, we’re committed to helping keep pets happy and healthy.¹ Puppies require tons of veterinary care: checkups, vaccine boosters, and flea medications are just the tip of the financial iceberg. We offer customizable coverage that could save families thousands of dollars over their puppy’s lifetime.² Get started with a free quote before Santa takes off in his sleigh.
Protect your Puppy
¹ Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
² Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
3 “Position Statement on Pets as Gifts,” ASPCA