Holidays Are Going To The Dogs

By Anica Wong

October 17, 2014 4 min read

Dogs, cats, birds and rabbits are no longer just pets. They are part of our families. They go on vacation with us, sleep with us and, in some cases, eat the same food we do. Because we consider them furry (or feathered) family members, it's no wonder that we also include them in our holiday gift giving. It would be rude to leave them out.

Whitney Trayer, a sales associate at Quality Paws Natural Pet Inc. in Denver, says that more and more people are buying Christmas gifts for their dogs and cats. "Things that are Christmas-y or a hat, like reindeer ears, sell really well," she says.

Danielle Jarock, the owner of the store, says she sees a 20 to 30 percent increase in sales during the month of December. And she's not alone in this growing trend. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans are projected to spend more than $58.5 billion in 2014 on their pets. This number has increased by about four to six percent annually since the association started keeping track in 1994. To compare, the craft beer industry will reach $20 billion in 2014, according to Mintel, a market research group.

In 2013, people spent $55.72 billion on their pets, most of which went to food ($21.57 billion), followed by vet care ($14.37 billion) and then supplies/over-the-counter meds ($13.14 billion). That last category lends itself to a lot of Kongs, tennis balls and catnip toys, especially around the holiday season.

And not only are our four-legged pals getting gifts placed under the tree, but they also are getting stocking stuffers like little John and Suzy. "People come in to fill a (pet) stocking," says Trayer. She points to a treat display case on the counter. Dog treats of all shapes, sizes and colors are artfully placed. She says they order a lot of Santa treats that seem to fly out of the store. They're pretty popular stocking stuffers.

While it may seem that all of the goodies are going to the dogs (pun intended), Trayer also noticed that along with shopping for their own pets, owners typically buy for others once they are in the store. "People stumble upon the store," she says, noting that the location on a new up-and-coming main street helps drive traffic to the storefront. And then once inside, shoppers think about all of the other people for whom they wouldn't necessarily buy a gift but would be happy to buy their dog or cat a little something. "People love that -- 'You got something for my dog!'" Trayer says, mimicking an excited pet-gift recipient.

Gifts can be as diverse as the animals you are shopping for. For some, a rope toy and a big bone will do just fine. For those with fancier tastes, a blinged-out collar and high-end kibble might be the ticket. And high-tech gadgets aren't just for humans anymore. The Tagg pet-tracker device, which can be affixed to your dog's collar, tracks his every move and can even send notifications to your phone when he gets out of the safe zone, usually the backyard.

The options are endless, and there's no doubt that whatever you pick out for your favorite furry companion, you're sure to get some extra-slobbery kisses or deep purrs.

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