Top gifts for pets and pet owners

Holiday budgets may be tight, but there’s always room for the furry, feathered and four-legged friends who share our lives. Looking for the perfect gift for that special pet or pet parent on your list? We’ve got you covered:

Delicious treats: Buying special munchies for pets continues to be popular, whether you’re picking up an inexpensive bag at the pet store or searching for some gourmet goodies. Following in the wake of pet food scares and the latest healthy eating fads, the latest trends for treats include organic, human-grade, vegetarian and kosher products. Watch for ingredients like blueberries and other superfoods which aim to provide certain health benefits. You can even buy organic frozen yoghurt for dogs and organic catnip.

Warm clothes: From practical to designer, there’s an even wider range of clothing available on the market. Watch for customizable clothing and holiday wear, like the Martha Stewart Pets(TM) Holiday Collection available at PetSmart. You won’t just find apparel in pet stores — keep your eyes open next time you hit your favourite clothing stores too.

Pet pampering: Bad news for pets who hate the bath — more and more companies are introducing products to pamper pets. A variety of luxury and “all-natural” products are coming out for bathing and grooming, and grooming combs and brushes already on the market are getting a boost from technology. For instance, the Andis The Power De-Shedder+ is a battery-operated, vibrating comb that massages pets while removing loose hair. It even claims to reduce shedding by 90 per cent.

Even nails are getting more attention. New tools from PediPaws and Peticure actually file down pet’s nails rather than clipping them. The tools promise smooth, groomed nails than won’t crack or splinter — or get caught on carpets. Many pet owners tout the products as a safer and less stressful alternative to clippers, not mention a money-saver compared to professional clipping.

Deluxe pet beds While many pets prefer to hop up on the furniture, there’s an increasing variety of pet beds in stores. Aside from colour, design and plush fabrics, the last models include features like memory foam and removable heaters. In addition, heated perches are the latest innovation to keep feathered friends warm and heated pads are available for small animals. (See K&H Pet Products and L.L. Bean for some examples).

Trendy toys: Many pets love a new play toy, and there are always fresh ideas to be found on the market. Some of the most recent additions include Fisher Price(R) dog toys (inspired by classic Fisher Price icons like Xylobone(TM) and Ruff-a-Stack(TM)), Kong(R) Naturals (a line of cat toys made from sustainable and renewable materials) and Migrators (collection of pheasants, mallards and goose squeaker toys are available in various sizes for most dogs).

Cleaner clean-up: This year products that make the home a more hygienic place are making a splash. For example, to take the hassle and mess out of litter boxes, Scoop Free has developed a self-cleaning litter box that seemingly does all the work for you. It’s pricier than traditional litter boxes, but worth a look for those who find scooping a hassle. Alternatively, there are other new products coming out that aim to reduce odors.

Aquarium owners may want to take a look at Whisper EX filtration system from Tetra. The system includes a special strip to let you know when the carbon has worn out and it’s time to change the filter.

If you’ve ever wanted to play crime scene investigator and find those invisible stains in your home you’ll soon get your chance. To complement its line of “Urine Off” bio-enzymatic cleaning products, Bio-Pro Research has developed a pair of “Urine Finder” lights that light up those invisible stains in your carpet and upholstery so you can spot-clean without guessing. (Visit their website for more information).

And for dog-walkers the switch is on to biodegradable plastic bags for poop-and-scoop clean up. Watch for products from companies like Bags on Board that make dispensers that attach to leashes.

Travel accessories: More companies are getting wise to the trend of travelling pets, and this year’s product offerings are no exceptions. There are safer, more secure crates for air travel, but also more accessories for the car. Another hot item is the pet travel tote bag — in a variety of fashionable designs and colours, of course.

Watch for items that make travel more convenient, like collapsible water and food dishes, as well as products that make travel safer and more enjoyable like the Kurgo Skybox Booster Seat which keeps small dogs secure while letting them see out the window. It’s a safer alternative than the lap, and a soft place to snuggle down for a nap. Kurgo also offers a variety of dog travel products like harnesses and barriers to protect everyone in the car. (See their website for more information).

GPS devices: If you’ve ever experienced the panic of runaway pets, GPS companies like Zoombak have pet locator devices to help you find them faster. The device — which attaches to the collar — sends you an alert if your pets escape their “personalized safety zone” and then you can use your computer, cell phone or the company’s support line to locate them. (See for more information.)

Desk top aquariums: Fish can be a joy to watch — and a lot less work than other pets. If you’re looking for something with a little more sophistication than a goldfish bowl, take it up a notch with the The Fluval(R) Chi Aquarium. This self-sustaining desk-top environment lends a little “zen” sophistication to any room.

Helping other animals: What do you get the pet lover who has everything? You may want to consider a donation to a charity that benefits animals and their owners. Some options include the World Wildlife Fund, your local Humane Society or the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Ontario residents may also be interested in the Farley Foundation (named after For Better or Worse ‘s beloved pet) which provides emergency financial support to help injured or sick pets belonging to people who can’t afford expensive care (like people with disabilities and low-income seniors).

These are just a few examples of the many gifts out there. And keep in mind that it isn’t necessary to spend a lot of cash on pets. A bag of treats or an inexpensive (but good quality) toy doesn’t have to break the bank — many are available for less than $5.00.

Sources: PetSmart press release, APPA press release.

Article updated November 2012 by staff.

Photo © Katherine Moffitt

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