As a recent pet owner, I have a new member of the family to shop for this holiday season: my one-year-old rescue mutt, Theia. I could go on and on about how wonderful and adorable she is, but allow me to just leave it at that.
Instead, developing my gift list made me think about the smallest, messiest, furriest resident in my household. I grew up with dogs, and our Christmas gifts for them were usually limited to toys and treats. They were perfectly content with those stocking stuffers, but it got me thinking. What do people get their pets for Christmas outside of the standard fare?
So to accompany our human holiday gift guide, here is our guide for furry, feathered and finned friends.
Joe Thornton, owner of Wagsburgh (wagspgh.com), located on the city’s Northside, provided me with a lot of wonderful and unexpected suggestions, including standard holiday-themed treats and toys for your pet’s stockings. Treats can range in price from $5.99 to $14.99, depending on the size and protein. Of course, there’s the ever-popular chicken, but also wild game like alligator.
Filled bones, flavored nylon toys and durable rubber chews are also great options for keeping your pet occupied while the humans socialize.
On that note, be sure to keep pets comfortable when the in-laws are in town. If your dog or cat needs time to warm up to new visitors, make sure they have a safe place to get away from the noise and chaos the holidays can bring. A crate can help give your dog a safe den, whereas elevated walkways or shelving can help cats assess the situation from a distance. Window perches and cat trees are also good options, as long as guests know that is the cat’s safe space and not to infringe upon it.
If you’re planning to travel with pets, be sure to take the proper precautions. Tethers, seat belts, harnesses and travel crates can all keep animals from getting loose or hurting themselves by wandering around your car if you plan to drive long distances. Some owners, Thornton said, have experienced success with the use of a “ThunderShirt,” a garment meant to alleviate anxiety through slight compression, similar to a swaddled infant. These items are available for dogs and cats.
Even CBD products can assist in travel or guest-related fears, though Thornton cautions that owners should consult their vet before using any supplements. At Wagsburgh, CBD items such as treats and drops can range from $15.99 to $59.99.
Owner of Healthy Pet Products Toni Shelaske (healthypetproducts.net) said her store sells mostly holiday-themed toys and biscuits in the last quarter of the year. Many people purchase a cookie wrapped up with a bow for their neighborhood dog. Located just of Rt. 19 in McMurray, the store offers organic and natural foods and accessories.
Their second-largest day in terms of sales, bested only by their annual Healthy Pet Day in May, is Small Business Saturday. Set the day after popular big box store stale extravaganza Black Friday, this American shopping holiday encourages people to patronize the local businesses of their communities. Check for featured deals on their website.
Cold weather accessories, like vests, coats, sweaters and boots, are great gifts for pets that don’t look forward to dashing through the snow.
Shelaske said the store offers plenty of human gifts, too: candles, shirts, towels, photo frames, and more for the pet owner in your life.
One of their most popular people offerings is their customizable nose print necklace. The kits are $69.99 or $99.99, depending on the necklace finish – silver or gold. It comes with detailed instructions on how to take an impression of your pet’s nose and send it off to be handcrafted in Knoxville, Tenn.
Of course, I have a dog, so I’m a bit biased. Aware of my preference going into this endeavor, though, I set out to include local options for other pets. This effort took me south on Rt. 19 to Wet Pets and Friends (wetpetsandfriends.com).
Introductory, all-encompassing kits for aquariums and terrariums are their best sellers this time of year. People looking to own fish, lizards, geckos or spiders may think that this hobby can be prohibitively expensive. Though it can quickly get out of hand, it can also be done safely, effectively and reasonably priced. Their popular aquarium offering, an Aqueon LED 10 kit, is $59.99. They also offer a variety of supplies and tank accessories, and their knowledgeable staff can walk you through anything you may need to gift this pet to someone you love.
I will admit, I embarked on this story with mostly self-serving reasons of researching for my own gift list. Though I’ve not even begun thinking about Christmas shopping, let alone making any purchases, I now feel prepared to purchase presents for all the furry members of my extended family. If you’re on my gift list this year, expect something for your dog or cat, and maybe you, if you’re lucky.