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Adopt a Pet During the Holidays? The Pros and Cons

Holiday pet etiquette

Picture it: A floppy puppy crawls out of a beautifully gift-wrapped box or a tiny kitten peeks out of a bright red stocking. The thought has crossed many people’s minds. Maybe you’re thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your family and the holidays are coming up. But is this a good idea? The issue of whether or not you should adopt a pet during the holidays is a subject of controversy in the animal welfare community. Here are the facts!


What child hasn’t begged for a puppy or kitten for the holidays? Here are four reasons to adopt a pet during the holiday season.

  • Getting a pet for the holidays is a dream come true!
  • With everyone on vacation from school and work, the family has extra time at home to get to know and train the new pet. This eases the transition of adoption.
  • Adopting a pet saves a life and makes more room at the shelter for an animal in need of a warm bed.
  • The ASPCA highly encourages folks to adopt during the holidays. They conducted research in 2013 supporting that there’s no harm in giving an animal has a gift. They found that adopting a pet during the holidays has no negative effect on emotional attachment and 86% of pets adopted during the holidays remain in the home.


On the other hand, it may not be wise to consider pet adoption in December. It’s a chaotic time of year, so you might be better off adopting after New Year’s. Here are three reasons to not adopt a pet during the holidays.

  • Some shelters believe that animals given as gifts are more likely to be returned.
  • Surprising a loved one with a pet means that the person hasn’t met the animal beforehand. What if it isn’t a good personality match?
  • Some people travel a lot during the holidays and may not have enough time to bond and train the pet. They might be better off adopting during a less hectic time of year when everyone in the family is home.

Tips for Adopting a Pet During the Holiday Season

Ultimately, whether or not you should adopt a pet during the holidays is a personal choice. We recommend taking into account your family, lifestyle and holiday plans. Here are some tips for adopting during the holidays to make the transition as smooth as possible!

  • Make sure that your holiday plans include plenty of time at home. You want to have ample time to get to know your pet and provide the necessary behavioral training.
  • Try to minimize foot traffic in and out of your home. The hustle and bustle of friends and family might be overwhelming for a new pet. Keep the animal’s surroundings as calm and peaceful as possible.
  • Instead of surprising a family member with a pet, you can give them a card saying you’re getting a new dog or cat. This way the whole family can go look for a new animal together. When you go to the shelter, all members of the family can visit with each pet and cast a vote over which animal they think is best.