12 Cool Holiday Gifts for the Pet in Your Life

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December 18, 2013 | 8,094 views

Story at-a-glance

  • If you’re wondering what to get your fuzzy family member for Christmas, we have some neat, unusual suggestions for the pets on your shopping list this holiday season.
  • Dr. Becker also explains why giving a pet as a surprise holiday gift is almost never a good idea.

By Dr. Becker

Ideas for the Dog in Your Life

  • If your dog is a food gulper, and especially if he’s a large breed prone to bloat, the Green slow feeder could be the perfect gift.
  • If your dog rides in your vehicle and you’re concerned for her safety, the SleepyPod ClickIt Dog Harness is the only pet restraint to date to earn a top score by the Center for Pet Safety and Subaru.
  • Stuff Fido’s stocking with adorable, non-toxic, eco-friendly toys from Westpaw Design.
  • Make a New Year’s resolution to toss all your dog’s toys made with iffy materials and replace them with safe, organic versions from Planet Dog or Simply Fido.

Ideas for the Kitty in Your Life

Ideas for Both Dogs and Cats

  • Consider a photo session with a professional pet photographer to memorialize the 2013 holiday season.
  • If your dog or cat has anxiety or phobias, the Thundershirt may prove beneficial in helping your pet stay calm and relaxed.
  • Put together a gift basket stocked with pet-friendly items like organic shampoo and conditioner, a new comb or brush, a new collar or harness, and some all-natural species-appropriate treats.
  • Get rid those worn out pet food and water bowls and replace them with new stainless steel bowls and a pet drinking fountain.

One Pet-Related Holiday Gift You Should Avoid

I almost never recommend giving pets as holiday gifts. The reason? In most cases, the act is impulsive, and giving a friend or family member a gift that will require a 10- to 20-year commitment is not something to be done on a whim.

Reasons the holiday season is not the time to bring home a new pet:

  • The holidays are crazy busy. The holiday season is often very busy for families. In addition to the usual hectic daily routine of school, work and other activities, end-of-year festivities mean even more demands on your time and energy. A new pet requires a great deal of time and attention from his new family. It's in everyone's best interests to wait for a less busy, exciting time of year to bring home a new dog, cat or other pet.
  • The weather outside is frightful. Puppies and many adult dogs must be house trained upon arrival in their new home. The short days and cold, wet weather around the holidays and into the new year are far from ideal for this chore. Why not wait for the warmth of spring if you're planning to add a pet to the family?
  • Pets should not be surprises. Surprising a loved one with a puppy or kitten on Christmas morning is a romantic but usually misguided idea. In my experience, it's best to let a prospective pet owner, no matter what age, be very engaged every step of the way in selecting a new pet and preparing in advance for the homecoming.
  • A pet for a child shouldn't be viewed as a new toy. A living creature shouldn't be considered the same kind of “wow” Christmas gift as a new bike or the latest gaming console. Even if your youngster is pleading for a pet and you think he or she is old enough to take on the responsibility, I recommend you keep the “pet project” separate from the holiday festivities.
  • Pet stores, backyard breeders and puppy mills. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, certain disreputable individuals and businesses are bursting at the seams with all the latest popular puppy models. Most of these babies are shipped in from puppy mills. Some are healthy. Many are not. All are bred and born in inhumane, often filthy conditions. And while you may give a puppy mill baby a good home for Christmas, her mother remains back at the mill, having litter after litter until she's too sick or old to reproduce -- at which point she's disposed of.

My recommendation? Wait till the holidays are over and visit your local shelter or rescue organization. Chances are, if you visit in late January or February, you'll have your pick of pets who've already worn out their welcome as Christmas gifts.