For an increasing number of pet owners, the answer is yes. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association conducted a survey last year that found eight of 10 dog owners buy presents for their dogs and 63 percent of cat owners buy for their pets. The average for each gift (which wasn’t just tracked for the holidays — pet owners also buy for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and other special occasions) was $17. This year alone, Americans will spend about $38 billion in pet supplies.
So, what can you get this year for the pet that has everything? Well, more of the same. If your dog loves chew toys, a new one is sure to be a hit. A cat that enjoys catnip will undoubtedly like that herb in a new toy.
Really smart dogs may enjoy a new trend in toys: Brain-teasers for pups. Ourpets.com offers a range of “interactive toys” that are intended to keep a dog busy for a while. Note the MolecuBall, which rolls and slides in unpredictable directions. As it moves, the dog figures out how to get the toy to release a treat. The Buster Food Cube also rewards canines for their problem-solving behavior — as the dog plays with the cube, treats come trickling out of a small hole on the side. “This motivates the dog to learn how to ’work’ the cube so more treats roll out,” the company’s press release says. I haven’t tried these out on my personal dog, but they’d be a good bet for someone looking to keep their pet entertained for a few hours.
Your cat may like a new scratching post or condo. There are literally hundreds of different styles to choose from, ranging from small cardboard models to huge, carpeted, multi-level constructions. I always like to recommend the Cosmic Catnip Alpine Scratcher, an inexpensive cardboard “hill” that lets cats exercise their claws and enjoy catnip at the same time. These can be found in different sizes at most pet supply stores. Of course, you can cover your bases with a gift basket for your cat or dog, filled with a variety of goodies and toys.
Looking for something for a smaller pet? The KONG Company, which makes popular chew toys for dogs, has recently come out with a line of chew toys that work for rabbits, ferrets and rodents. I haven’t seen these available yet, but the company says they should be out for Christmas, so keep your eyes peeled! I do know that while the new one has pictures of rabbits and rodents on the packaging, the company has an existing KONG for ferrets that may be easier to find (in a pinch, order online at amazon.com or your favorite pet supply store).
The lizard in your house might enjoy a vibrating food dish. Sounds funny, but makers at the Rolf C. Hagen Corp. believe that its Exo Terra Vivicator Feeding Dish will encourage reptiles and amphibians, which normally prefer their food to be live, to eat canned food or pellets. The bowl moves food across its rubber surface and is controlled by remote to vibrate for 15-second intervals.
When looking for a present for any pet, make sure it is wrapped safely (if you choose to wrap the gift at all). Ribbons can be ingested by cats and all kinds of pets can nibble on or eat paper and cardboard. It’s probably best to avoid these issues by removing any packaging from the pet right away. You’ll also want to steer clear of pet toys that look like household items — the kids’ stuffed animals or your favorite slippers, for example — so they don’t inadvertantly encourage your pet to chew on the wrong thing.
Don’t forget, if buying a food item, to check the label for anything to which your pet might be allergic. Toys or treats that have dyes may also cause problems — pets can’t tell the colors, but those dyes might stain your carpeting or furniture. Give anything edible in moderation and supervise so that your pet doesn’t accidentally choke or otherwise get hurt.
Photo courtesy of HickerPhoto / Article by Jennifer Gardner