In a land where most pets are referred to as "fur-babies" and human cohabitants refer to themselves as "pet parents," is it any wonder that you can bring a smile to a human face by remembering the adorable pooch, aristocratic kitty or any other non-human domestic dweller with a gift under the Christmas tree (or Hanukkah menorah)?
According to the American Pet Products Association, “it's estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47 percent of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37 percent have a cat." Dogs, cats, birds and horses are among the most common companion pets; some of the more exotic pets include fish, rabbits, ferrets, rodents, amphibians, poultry and livestock. The human-animal bond provides a reciprocally positive experience where emotional and physical health benefits are documented. Simply put, many pets are very high on a list of important family members.
For lots of pet owners, the idea of another generic candy dish may not be a highlight in the gift category, but give that same owner a dish with their cuddly puppy's face embossed on it and it will often find a percent place to be displayed. Other pet-personalized gifts include coffee mugs, canvas totes, T-shirts, coasters that allow slip-in pet pics, calendars, paintings and miniature dolls or statuettes portraying a special fur-baby.
Pet parents -- er, owners -- often appreciate gifts that help make their lives a little easier when it comes to taking care of their critters. Pet food dishes, automatic pet feeders, leashes, doggy sweaters and boots, brushes, and travel crates/kennels make great and very useful gifts. Gift certificates to the local pet food store or doggy day care facility will always be appreciated, too. Another idea to make it easy on the humans would be a large size bag of favorite kibble or stack of appropriate animal treats, which the animals are sure to enjoy. Pet fur magnets to clean the upholstery and pet furniture covers make terrific and helpful gifts in a home populated by furry creatures. A very special gift for your pet-loving friend would be a photo session, either with a professional photographer or you if you are talented with a camera, of precious fur-babies with their human parents; depending on the animals, this could be scheduled at a studio or in the home.
Dogs, cats, birds and other small animals do understand the concept of a toy, just watch as they carry little stuffed dolls in their mouths, or wrestle a chew toy away from another animal or human. Animals like to play, so lots of catnip-filled plush toys, crackling doggy chew toys, small bells for a bird to peck at and rock formations for amphibians to crawl over will help to keep pets occupied and happy. Some toys, like battery operated pet laser pointers and tug toys are interactive which allow for hours of fun for both pets and their humans. Pets, like their humans, also enjoy a favorite place to catch a catnap; there are pet hammocks, cat trees, loose paper bedding for small animals, and plush padded pet beds that will fit into almost any decor. Cat scratching posts and pheromone diffusers are great comfort gifts for cats.
Even non-pet-owners can be animal lovers. If your favorite human has an active back yard that could pass for an aviary, consider giving a decorative bird feeder to hang from a tree along with a sack of wild bird feed and a nice set of binoculars to watch feathered friends. There are many picture books of birds and other wildlife that a human recipient would enjoy as they enhance the experience. Spun glass animal figurines, pet inspired jewelry accessories, animal shaped garden ornaments and wall decor make great gifts for all animal lovers, whether they live with pets or not. While it generally isn't the best idea to choose a pet for your animal-loving friend -- either as a first pet or to add to an established pet palace -- many animal adoption agencies sell holiday gift certificates to cover adoption costs.
Many pet parents are thrilled when the love they have for their animals is acknowledged, so feel free to make a human and a pet happy this holiday season.