Holiday Gift Guide for Pets and Their People

BlogHer Original Post

Hannukah's just about over, (although I encourage you to check out these fabulous collars for next year!) but with a couple of weeks left until Christmas, there is still plenty of time to take care of the pets - and pet people - on your lists. In my admittedly biased opinion, we (I mean they!) are some of the most fun to buy for.

1. Stockings are a big deal at our house, and leaving the dog out of this tradition just isn't allowed. There is really nothing more fun on Christmas morning anyway than watching my dog try to bat his stocking down from the dining room chair. This does NOT count as tormenting him, no matter what the rest of the family says. I fill it with toys and treats he can still have now that he's old and is on a controlled diet. Here are some cute stocking options for dogs and cats from the Animal Rescue Site.

I do get him a couple of cookies from a local gourmet pet bakery. We actually have a few in the DC area, and it is a special day, after all. I try to go for the ones without a lot of stuff on top. They're perfectly safe, but I've found that too much strange food doesn't work for him. If your pet has an iron stomach, go to town.

2. As for toys, they're a popular choice for pet gifts, yes. My favorites are from the Air Kong line. They're durable, they come in fun shapes, like jacks (LOVES his jack!) and footballs, and he can chew on them for ages and they don't fall apart. Actually, my dog is perfectly happy with new tennis balls and the occasional goofy toy, and I find that most companion animals stick with their familiar favorites.

Rawhide is messy and not terribly safe, and I don't give any fluffy toys to any of the animals in my life. As funny or cute as they may seem on the shelf, even my small dog can tear them up within minutes - as in literally tear the stuffing out of them. It makes a mess, I worry about pieces breaking off and causing him to choke or getting into his stomach, and I have to admit it hurts my feelings to spend 10 bucks on a toy that has such a short life expectancy. If anything's going to change my mind, though, it's going to be these Zen chew toys from Uncommon Goods.

Cats can get in on the entertainment also. The kitty who truly has everything and needs a little bit more sensory stimulation would be lucky to get the Mewvie, a dvd set full of "action-packed scenes of scampering critters, fluttering birds and jittering bugs" that "delight cats while you're at home or away." The Website is worth a peek anyway.

3. Clothing can be the perfect gift choice for the fashionista pet lover who wants to wear her breed literally on her sleeve. I say "can be" because there's a fine line in animal themed-clothing between really cool or even just passable and really not. Speaking for me and others who still maintain an illusion of hipness, please avoid puffy-paint dalmation sweatshirts or Garfield nightgowns (unless they're really cute or the recipient is into retro-inspired irony.) Luckily, there are some nifty things out there.

Barkology has some really stylish pieces that speak to the love or just appreciation of dogs. I'm personally in love with the tunics. The baby doll style is pictured here, but the longer-sleeved version made my wish list. barkologytunic

Cat-lovers should note that they have a "MeMeMeow Nemesis" line, that includes a feline coat of arms t-shirt.

I was drawn to All Mighty Goods because of their huge selection of Boston Terrier-inspired fashion (yes, you heard me.) But even if that's not your thing, they have lots of other pretty apparel as well. That's smart, because Boston people have to be a fairly small percentage of the market.

4. Do a good deed by giving to the ASPCA while picking up gifts for the people and pets you care about. The organization's gift guide has lots of cool options, like this pet first-aid kit or a kit that has all the ingredients for making pet treats. Fun. santakitty

Some businesses are partnering with the ASPCA this season also. Enter the "ASPCA" as promo code at 1800flowers.com, and 10 percent of your purchase goes to the animal welfare organization.>

The Animal Rescue site is another good cause you can support while picking up gifts. You can purchase services, like vaccinations for shelter cats for 20 bucks, or goods, like these "memory comfort clogs", embroidered with purple paws and available now for the relative bargain of $10.

5. Have your pet immortalized in pen and ink, acrylic or oil as a gift to yourself, or do the same for a friend or family member. Pop Art Pet has some beautiful options for pet portraiture. It's cutting it too close for holiday delivery now, but you can purchase a gift certificate until December 23rd. Other options are to capture their paw print in cement for a garden stone, or frame a perfect photograph. And even though the subjects won't belong to you, Kitty City has a large selection of feline-inspired art.

Thanks to Pop Art Pet also for the link to Pasado's Safe Haven, where you can "adopt" a shelter pet from a distance, find out more about him and help him out while he's getting the care he needs to move on to a new home.

6. Games you can play WITH your pets are a new one on me, but again, PetSugar tipped me off. One such game is called "Funagle."

Players have one minute to "funagle" their dog into performing activities called out on removable tags that make up the game board. To funagle is to use your voice, treats and gestrures to get a dog to do a task. If your dog does the activity, you win a tag. Tags are stored on bone-shaped carabiners. The player with the most tags on their carabiner at the end of the games WINS!

My dog and I would lose, no question. No obedience school for either of us. In fact, we failed puppy kindergarten as a tag team.

"Do You Mind," by the same company, has the same premise: again, that a dog will obey. And again, we would lose.

7. Buy your own pets a treat or two, but if yours is anything like mine, he has stuff he won't even look at (Dirty Rotten Kitty, for instance, goes unloved in favor of the more engaging activity of staring at the treat cabinet.) Consider dropping some toys off at the local shelter for other animals who aren't so lucky. Enter your zip code and Pets911 gives you a list of animal welfare and rescue organizations in your area. You can click through to the home pages and in many cases they'll list what they need. I checked out my zip and it even gave me breed-specific rescues, so it's pretty thorough.

The Humane Society of the United States has some suggestions for "gifts" you can give the wildlife in your neck of the woods. Pinecones and peanut butter - it's not just for breakfast anymore. (And a heated birdbath sounds pretty sweet too.)

8. Magazines and books make great gifts for pet people. Cat Fancy
and Dog Fancy magazines have both been around forever, and although they have "Dog" and "Cat" channels online now, you can still get the print publications mailed to your house. Bark Magazine is a newer quarterly that has poetry, fiction and essays about the dog's life, along with nutrition, health, DIY (want to make a folding feeding stand or a crocheted dog bed? I don't either, but I know someone out there does) and behavior. "Howl: a Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit", is a new book available from the Bark files this holiday season. Other new releases include Anna Quindlen's "Good Dog. Stay." about her black Lab Beau, and three new releases from Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori of the Pet Connection blog, "MeowWow", "BowWow" and "Why Do Horses Sleep Standing Up?"

While you're in the bookstore - real or virtual - You can throw in a "Bad Cat" calendar, or one of the higher-end Gallery versions suitable for a desk, just because.

9.Does your pet need a new crib? This "papasan chair" version is stylish and looks really comfy. Also from PawShop.com, the Thermo-Crinkle Cat Heated Sack looks a lot more comfortable than it sounds. A cat can pop into the heated, plush interior and curl up til spring. (Of course be careful kitty doesn't get too warm.)

10. Finally, just have some fun. Christmas presents are often an excuse for me to buy something completely unnecessary but necessarily perfect for the people in my life. Cat scratch wall art? Sure. Knit bird pillows? Okay. An "Om Ball" that "will bring meditative peace to your playful game of fetch"? Absolutely! Uncommon Goods was a site that made me stop my surfing just to take in the "who thought of that? And that?" options in the "for pet lovers" gift section.

So much cool stuff, so little time. Happy December and a happy, healthy new year to all of you and the companion animals large and small in your life. Just as with people, I truly believe that the best gifts we exchange with them can't be bought. I'm still scoring the Barkology tunic, though.

Laurie White blogs at LaurieWrites

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