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Eleven holiday gift ideas for pets and pet owners

woman with backpack and dog on mountain

Consider a “wellness backpack” as a gift for your dog — and yourself.

You might already have started the holiday shopping for your family. But once again, Fluffy and Fido have failed to give you a wish list.  No worries! Take a look at these 11 ideas, and we’re pretty sure purring and tail-wagging will soon follow.

  • A wellness backpack. Here’s a neat idea for pet owners, suggested by Dr. Sonja Olson, a senior emergency clinician for BluePearl Veterinary Partners. Get a small backpack with room for at least two water bottles, a water dish, dog treats, human treats and other items. It’s really a wellness gift for both of you. You’re going to wear this backpack, not your dog. Use it as an incentive to get out on hikes and outings with your dog. Of course, make sure to follow safety guidelines and avoid taking your pet on expeditions when it’s too cold or too hot.
  • A pet tracking device, such as Whistle. These devices attach to your dog’s collar and provide a GPS signal so you never have to worry about losing your dog again.
  • Snow boots and a sweater. This might seem silly if you live in Florida or south Texas, but not if you’re anyplace where it snows regularly. Those little booties protect your dog’s paws and yes dogs do get frostbite. The boots also mean your dog won’t lick the salt and deicers that get stuck to their paws outside, which can harm them. Even though dogs have fur, a sweater or dog jacket really can help them stay warm.
  • A “care package” for Grandma’s pets. Or Grandpa’s pets, or the nice lady down the street who lives on a fixed income. None of these people would ever take charity. But they’d probably be pleased when you come by with a big bag of their usual pet food and maybe another big bag of kitty litter. They’ll see it as a nice gift to their beloved pet. And you’ll feel better that you’ve just stretched their monthly grocery dollars a bit further.
  • Yummy dog or cat treats. OK, we’re not winning any medals for originality here, but have you ever seen a dog who didn’t want a treat? Get good-quality treats and consider buying them from the same company that makes your regular pet food. There’s no need to get exotic. We humans might covet top-shelf delicacies, but your dog is not nearly so picky. Just don’t overdo it. If your pet has allergies, remember this when selecting treats. Also, if a certain treat made your pet sick last time, chances are good that history will repeat itself, so make a different choice next time.
  • Catnip toys. Yes, this is another classic, and with good reason. Cats absolutely love the stuff. Get catnip toys that are durable and well-made — otherwise you’ll be vacuuming up the remnants before lunchtime.
  • A self-cleaning cat litter box. Do you have an elderly friend or relative who just isn’t caring for their cats like they used to? And can you smell it right as you enter the front door? One of these might be the answer.
  • A good book on bird behavior, such as Birds for Dummies or books by Barbara Heidenreich. Most of us are more attuned to dog and cat behavior than bird behavior. The right book can help you train and understand your bird.
  • An artificial Christmas tree. Your dog or cat will not thank you for this gift, but they also will be far less likely to go to the emergency room with a belly full of pine needles. Also, make sure not to use tinsel — cats love it almost as much as catnip, but it does bad things to their digestive system.
  • A harness. You don’t have to lead pets around with cords fastened to their necks. Harnesses are just as effective and much more comfortable.
  • Pet insurance. This might be the pet equivalent of getting socks and underwear for a holiday gift. But pet insurance saves lives, especially for older pets. Some veterinary procedures can be expensive, and the right insurance can help make sure you’re covered.