Furry Christmas!

By Sharon Naylor

October 21, 2011 6 min read

It's good to be the family pet, especially at Christmastime, when so many pets get spoiled with lavish holiday gifts. According to the American Pet Products Association, of the 72.9 million American households owning a pet, many treat their animals as members of the family, indeed as their own children. To reward their pets for the unconditional love, laughter and positive health benefits they bring, owners are buying fabulous Christmas gifts for them.

Gift buying for pets is such an enormous trend that, according to the APPA: "More and more companies traditionally known for human products are going to the dogs, and cats, and reptiles. Big-name companies including Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy are now offering lines of pet products ranging from dog shampoo, pet attire, and name-brand toys to gourmet treats and food." As pet owners shop for themselves and the humans on their Christmas lists, they're also picking out choice items for their pampered pets. Their dogs will wear brand names and eat brand-name foods, just as their owners do.

Another leading trend in today's hot Christmas gifts for pets is personalized everything. Owners are ordering monogrammed sweaters or even designing custom T-shirts for their dogs to wear while out on walks or strutting their style at the dog park. At Zazzle.com, you can custom-create your pet's 100-percent pre-shrunk cotton T-shirt, in one of eight colors, featuring your own uploaded image and your choice of text, starting at $18.95. Want to match your pet? Design a matching shirt for yourself, or design a tote for your pet's on-the-go water bowl and other gear. Other personalized gift items include food and water bowls, collars, leashes, bedding and toys.

*Apparel

Believe it or not, pets are getting faux mink coats for Christmas. The APPA reports this fashion piece as part of a growing trend in "straight from the catwalk" designer apparel for pets, along with designer plaid jackets, matching jeweled and leather collar and leash sets, and holiday outfits for the Christmas celebration. If a personalized T-shirt is not high-fashion enough, pet owners are going to upscale pet boutiques to buy designer apparel and accessories, including brand-name booties to keep pets' paws warm and protected in winter. And give your dog some style with his or her tags, such as those from Wags & Tags, made with precious metals and stones.

*Pet Spa

Pets are now given treatments at luxury pet spas, including grooming and hair coloring, nail painting using eco-friendly products, fur conditioners, teeth cleaning and polishing, and even massages and chiropractic sessions that older pets, particularly those with arthritis, may enjoy. Cats can spend the day in a toy-filled fantasy suite, as well. As any great spa will provide, pets dine on healthy gourmet fare and even drink fresh spring water from a fountain, says the APPA.

Not to be left out, birds may get pedicures, as well, and the spa's take-home goodie bag will often include organic cleaning cloths, aromatherapy products for pets' stress levels, and scented gel air fresheners to keep the pet's room and the owner's home free of odors.

*Food and Treats

While owners receive edible Christmas gifts of their own, such as chocolate truffles and gourmet popcorn, pets are given their own brands of organic and special-formula food and treats. One popular name for the brand-fan is Rachael Ray's Nutrish line of natural pet foods and treats, with profits going to charities for animals in need. To date, Ray's Rescue charity has raised more than $2 million.

In addition to celebrity-brand foods, all manner of pet treats are available, such as doggie cupcakes and peanut-butter bars. Edibles might be the pet's gift, or you could stuff his or her stocking full of them.

*Toys

Caring pet owners know that pet toys can harbor bacteria or even dust mites over time, so they often choose to replace their pets' last-season toys with a whole new collection of plush squeaky toys, catnip balls, birdcage mirrors and bells, and hamster balls. The owner's "children" love to get toys for Christmas, and many -- such as tug toys for dogs -- are also designed to help with cleaning pets' teeth.

*Lifestyle

The pet who's toted around with his owner can travel in style with the gift of a new carrier, and the APPA says that some owners are purchasing leather carriers complete with cellphone and water bottle holders to keep them in style, as well. The good life may include the pet's new automatic feeder and water dispenser, a self-cleaning litter box, enhanced terrarium lighting systems, or an expanded habitat for hamsters with additional wheels, tubes and toys. And another pet-on-the-go essential is a safety harness and seat belt for the car, as well as a personalized comfy cashmere blanket to sit on during their travels.

Pets may not dream of sugarplums while napping on their new Egyptian cotton bedding, but they'll surely rest easily knowing how much their owners love them.

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