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Puppies and Kittens as Holiday Gifts?

Image of puppies sitting in a room.

Christmas time advertisements often picture a happy family with a bright eyed, ribbon adorned puppy licking the children's faces. But, is giving a pet as a gift likely to create a winter wonderland or a potential blue Christmas?

It may be an honored and even adorable holiday tradition, but animal experts and animal lovers alike all agree that puppies and kittens should not make an ideal gift for the season.

Although giving a pet as a present is often portrayed in movies, art, and literature as a thoughtful, even romantic gesture, groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and even many veterinarians point out a variety of reasons why animals do not make good gifts.

Animal behaviorists point out that a crucial socialization period for puppies and kittens often happens between seven and twelve weeks of age. Fears and avoidance behavior learned at this time can be difficult to overcome. It is easy to see that the chaos of holiday noise, seldom seen relatives, and even, irregular hours for the family could potentially be a scary situation for a new puppy recently removed from his familiar mom and siblings.

Besides the effects on the pet, animal experts point out that the Christmas season provides many other detriments to giving a puppy or kitten as a gift. Limited hours by many veterinarians, weather related concerns, and even the short attention span of some children can all have a negative effect on the pet and its relationship with the family. Statistics quoted by humane groups show that a large percentage of holiday pets will not live to see a second Christmas.

Choosing to give a pet as a holiday gift is a tradition that many animal groups would like to see disappear.