Is It OK to Give a Pet as a Gift?

Christmas Dog

Q. My husband and I are thinking of getting a little dog for my mother for Christmas. She is retired, lives by herself and could use the company, frankly. What do you think?

A. While I hate to steer you away from the Kodak Moment when you surprise your mother with the gift of a puppy in a box with a bright red bow, I have to advocate for the lifelong relationship between the pet and the owner. That’s where the value of the human-animal bond truly is, long after Christmas morning — and the unexpected arrival of the dog — is over.

Making a Pet a Good Gift

There‘s no blanket answer to your question, but I can offer some guidelines. First and foremost when you are giving a pet as a gift, you need to consider the intended recipient carefully and make sure the animal is truly wanted. A pet is not a sweater, after all, and returns are not in anyone’s best interest.

Since you can’t fully know your mother’s views without discussing them with her, that rules out the idea of the pet being a surprise. Even if you grew up with dogs, and your mom has always had one in her home until recently, she may no longer want one, for reasons that are entirely her own business. Even if you believe she’d be happier and healthier with a dog — perhaps to get her going on a daily walk — it’s not your decision to make, however well-intended.


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