By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Be compassionate and responsible this holiday and steer clear of giving live animals such as rabbits, bunnies or chicks as gifts. Too often people are tempted to act on impulse because they’re cute and cuddly. But it’s very important to remember that these animals require very special care. Sadly, too many end up in shelters after the holiday is over.

Instead, give a gift certificate to a nearby shelter or rescue and instruct the child on caregiving for the animal first, then plan a special day to choose a homeless animal to welcome into your family together.

Also, many farms, rescues and shelters such as Defenders of Wildlife and Farm Sanctuary, among others, provide a very unique opportunity to sponsor an animal, which would make for a very memorable idea. These make wonderful gifts and include pictures, booklets and updates, which would teach a child responsibility, compassion, and a one-to-one connection with the animals and nature.

Also, chocolate may be a delicious gift in the Easter basket, but it can be extremely tempting and dangerous for your pets.

Keep all chocolates and candy away from your dogs and cats as the toxicity levels from the caffeine derivative in chocolates, theobromine, can be fatal for them if ingested and candy can give them extreme gastrointestinal problems.

Instead, distract them from all sweets by providing safe chew toys and lots of love.