The gift giving season is upon us. Gone are the days when your holiday gift giving list included only the names of people and did not include the names of pets, either yours, or those of friends or family members. Rarely were gifts given to pets and if they were, it was limited to a bone from the butcher for a beloved dog or catnip for the family cat. Today pet gifts account for billions of dollars in sales for pet shops each year. Most pet owners consider their beloved companions to be members of their families and some pets receive as many holiday gifts as humans.
If you have a friend or family member who is the owner of a pet they adore and you would like to purchase a gift for that pet or a pet related gift for the owner, you are in luck. The choices are limitless. First decide if your gift will be practical and useful, a treasured keepsake or a gift that is just for fun. Next, decide on a budget to narrow down the choices. It may be an expensive deluxe dog house or cat climbing tree or a low cost, small box of treats. Any thoughtful gift will be meaningful.
In the practical and useful category are travel crates, car harnesses, beds, soft blankets, leashes, leash holders, collars, collar tags, brushes, nail clippers, food dishes or water bowls. Most of these items can also be personalized with engraving, embroidery or screen printing depicting the pet’s name, photo or a meaningful saying. They are available in many colors, designs and styles to match the pet’s personality or a special interest of the pet owner. An example of this is a leash or collar embellished with a favorite sports team logo. Know the recipient and their interests. An owner who hikes with his dog might appreciate a lightweight, easy to pack, collapsible water bowl. A small hand held vacuum cleaner to clean up pet hair is a useful gift and a pet grooming gift card is a gift that will be appreciated by any pet owner. Call us to arrange a gift certificate for all our spa and grooming services for your favorite pet.
If you have your heart set on a memorable, keepsake gift, photography is a good choice. You could opt for a home appointment with a professional photographer to take candid photos in a familiar setting or choose a studio appointment for more formal shots. Silhouette shots of pets are a current and popular trend. A less costly option is to take photos of the pet yourself or use a photo taken at a previous time. Edit, print, enlarge and frame the photo to create a gift that is personal, recalls a specific event or time, is memorable to the pet owner and it is sure to become a favorite keepsake. A photo collage made up of several photos of the pet would be a welcome gift. Another idea is a personalized photo frame allowing the owner to insert an already existing favorite photo into the frame.
Keepsake gifts also include jewelry items. Necklaces, bracelets, cuff links, tie pins, money clips or earrings engraved with the pet’s name, the name of the dog or cat breed or paw prints and the date the pet became a member of the family are sure to be treasured. Personalized key rings fall into this category as well. In addition to engraving, pet photos can be permanently inserted into these items if you choose a photo rather than words.
Under the heading of “just for fun” are toys, the gifts that are the most appreciated by the pets, and sometimes their owner companions who get to play with them. For cats, anything on a string that can be dangled for them to bat at will provide hours of entertainment. Wind-up toys that scoot along the floor will be happily chased and any cat will be delighted with brightly colored stuffed toys to throw around and chew. Toys filled with catnip double the fun. Cats are fascinated by and never tire of laser pointers which also entertain the owner. At the top of the list for dogs are balls of any kind and variety. Playing fetch is a favorite pastime of most dogs. A bucket of tennis balls is sure to be a hit. Softer, washable balls are available in pet stores for indoor play in inclement weather. Light up, LED, glow in the dark balls are fun for a late night game of fetch. A ball launcher makes a great gift allowing the owner to throw farther and easily scoop up the ball from the ground when the dog returns it. Frisbees are popular throw and catch toys and come in a multitude of colors and sizes including a fold up Frisbee that fits in a pocket keeping it handy for play at any time. Dogs also like chew toys and toys made with rope or toweling for a game of Tug of War.
Some gifts are both fun and useful. They include t-shirts for both the owner and the pet (sometimes matching), pet themed ties, hats or scarves, dog or cat printed tote bags, pillows, sheets and comforters, luggage tags, doormats, desktop organizers, stationery, bookends, calendars and mugs. One company has cashed in on the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” trend and sells ugly Christmas sweaters for pets with the option of matching ugly sweaters for the owners. Recently specialty pet themed upholstery fabric has become available to cover chairs and sofas. Treat jars, bone shaped cookie cutters and a book of recipes for dog treats, tree ornaments or pet gift baskets are all thoughtful gifts.
There are several products that stand out as great safety gifts. A dog that spends time on a boat or near the water will benefit from a dog swim vest to keep it afloat in an emergency. A Thunder Shirt is a shirt worn by a dog that panics at the sound of fireworks or thunder. It is snug, squeezes the torso, feels like a hug and comforts the dog. Reflective pet jackets and leashes for those that walk their dogs at night are safety necessities and welcome gifts.
Homemade gifts are always special because of the time and effort put into them. A knitted jacket or homemade pet treats will always be welcomed and appreciated. A simple and thoughtful gift from children might be a placemat to go under food and water dishes made by cutting poster board to size, coloring a design and laminating it.
Clothing for pets has become big business. Some pet owners embrace this trend while others completely reject it. Know the opinions of the pet owner regarding pet clothing before you purchase an article of pet clothing for the recipient. Winter boots, sweaters and raincoats are on the practical side of pet clothing. Holiday costumes and hats are on the fun side and are often used only for photo ops.
For pet owners that love to read, books are always a good choice. Whether it is non-fiction based information about a particular breed of pet, a pet training manual, a pet health related book or an entertaining fiction selection there are so many pet related books on the market there is sure to be more than one that will catch a pet owner’s interest. A couple of popular books to check out are “Following Atticus: Forty-eight Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship” by Tom Ryan and “The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human” by Vint Varga, D.V.M.
Subscription services that provide a monthly gift box through the mail containing treats and gifts customized to a specific pet are available on line and are the gift that keeps on giving throughout the entire year. If all else fails, a fall back gift that is always appreciated is a gift card to a pet shop allowing the pet owner to choose what they know their pet needs or would like. Toureen has many items, both practical and just for fun, in our pet store and spa that can gifted with a gift certificate of any value.
Whether it is expensive or low cost a well thought out personal gift for a treasured pet or its owner is heartwarming and adds to the holiday spirit.