I hope everyone had a decidedly happy Thanksgiving OR a particularly nice regular Thursday if Thanksgiving isn’t your thing! Since the holiday gifting season will soon be upon us, I thought it might be useful to put together a quick gift guide for any pet lovers in your life.
I’m guess you don’t already need convinced if you’re reading this post, but here’s some persuasive facts about pet owners in the U.S.: in 2013, Americans spent $55.74 BILLION dollars on their pets. In 2011, 63.2% of surveyed owners considered their pets as family members. What I’m trying to get at is that pet parents spend a lot of money (and time and energy) on our pets because we love them dearly. Besides giving a pet owner something they will actually want and use, a pet-themed present can be a reassuring token of acceptance for any owners struggling with friends/family members who view their pet as a sub-par substitute partner/spouse/child/additional child (honestly, those people will never be satisfied!).
The theme of this gift guide is PRACTICAL! I’ve tried to collect a range of gifts for dog, cat, rabbit, ferret and small rodent owners that will actually be used and enjoyed. Not to say that a pet webcam with treat dispenser wouldn’t be an appreciated gift, but it may not be the most pragmatic present!
Do you know the pet owner who has it all? Or maybe a pet lover who isn’t quite ready to adopt a furry family member? Make a donation to an animal welfare agency in that friend’s name. Many local humane societies will happily accept cash or pet supplies (check their website for a wish list), or have items for sale with their logo.
Is your pet-adoring friend passionate about animal legislation? Donate to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
If you’ve got a friend that’s mad about a specific breed of pet (like Golden Retrievers or Bengal cats), check for local rescue groups that help those particular animals and make a donation in your friend’s honor.
As always, don’t just give your money away – do some research on any organization before you donate!
For dog owners:
If you’re not a dog owner yourself, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that most dog toys come in different sizes depending on the size of the dog. It’s very important to get the correct size because too small toys can be ingestion hazards and too large toys could cause injuries like teeth damage.
Kibble dispensing toys (like the Tug-a-Jug or Kibble Nibble – read my review here) provide make mealtimes mentally stimulating for a pup while giving an owner time to make coffee/eat breakfast/get dressed in peace. No dog owner can have too many but it might be a good idea to slyly attempt find out if your dog-owning-friend has any already!
Refillable chew toys like Busy Buddy’s Jack Dog Toy or Starmark’s Everlasting Treat Bento Ball. These toys are great for medium-to-light chewers (dogs that are BIG TIME CHEWERS will likely be able to cheat by dismantling these toys). Or get refills, if you know your dog-owning-acquaintance already has one!
Another Kong. Sure, you’re dog-owning-compadre probably already has one but once they realize how convenient it is to open their freezer to TWO frozen, treat-filled Kongs, they’ll love you forever.
Finally, every dog owner could use more dog treats! You can get fancy and make some yourself (my pups really enjoyed these) or buy some. Keep in mind that many dogs have food allergies these days! Not sure about your buddy’s dog? Avoid treats with meat-based proteins and opt for peanut butter, fruit or sweet potato treats. READ THE INGREDIENTS – treats that are blueberry flavored (or similar) might still have meat products included!
For cat owners:
Many cat-owning households are multi-cat. Putting a few of these present ideas in a feline gift bag would be a super cute, affordable present that will hopefully appeal to all kitties in the home!
Cats thrive with mental stimulation just like dogs do. Kibble dispensing toys can be a great way for cat owners to add activity to even the most lazy cat’s day. My all-time favorite is the PetSafe Slim Cat Interactive Feeder but the Kong Active Treat Ball is a great option too. Read my full reviews here!
Something cat owners can never have too many of is toys! Wand toys, like this one from JW, can rev up a cat’s prey drive and provide some much-needed exercise. Assorted mice, balls (do your friend a favor and avoid the balls with bells inside) and other cat toys will always be appreciated.
A super fun tunnel can be a great way to make a cat’s playtime a little more interesting. It’s also a great accessory for cats who like enclosed places to hang out or sleep.
My final suggestion for cats may be a surprising one but: a chew toy. I bought one just to spend enough for free shipping on Chewy.com and have been totally shocked that my cats actually use it. Dental cleanings for cats aren’t cheap so anything that might delay them could be greatly appreciated by cat owners!
For rabbit owners:
Many non-rabbit-owning folks greatly underestimate buns! House rabbits live on average 10-12 years and they can even be litter trained! Rabbits are typically social creatures so bunny-owning households may have more than one rabbit.
For rabbit owners, timothy hay is an ongoing necessity for their rabbits’ digestive and dental health. It’s also a relatively cheap way to gift an oversized present! But seriously, timothy hay will never be unappreciated by a bunny owner. If you want to gift a fancier hay gift, oat hay is great for rabbits too and alfalfa hay can be given as a treat.
If you’ve never lived with a bun, rabbits are inquisitive and playful creatures. Just like cats and dogs, they enjoy a variety of rabbit-appropriate toys and treats, like barley biscuits and wooden chew toys. You can find some great options at the House Rabbit Society’s online market place (and support a great organization while you’re at it!).
For ferret owners:
Ferrets, like cats, can sleep 15-20 hours a day. But when they’re awake, they need a high level entertainment and enrichment. Ferrets love to tunnel under bedding and other things – all of this makes them easy to shop for!
Have you see ferrets play with toys? Like any kind of toy. It’s so totally adorable. It would be super cute to make a toy basket for a ferret owner with a few types of cheaper toys for their weasel friend!
This playpen. I don’t think much else needs to be said – it’s a ball pit for ferrets.
For small rodent owners:
Many small rodent owners are older children and young adults, so gifting a small rodent-purposed present can acknowledge the responsibility that’s been taken on. These gifts also tend to be on the affordable side, so they could be group with a human-oriented present too!
Small rodents like hamsters enjoy burrowing in their bedding to sleep and, especially during the winter months, this fluffy bedding can make a ham’s bed extra cozy. This Shred-A-Bed also provides some enrichment for a small rodent, because they can tear the lightly compressed bedding fiber.
All rodents need to chew pretty constantly to maintain healthy teeth. There are many great and cheap chew toys available for rodents at basically any pet store, ranging from wooden baubles to straw houses to willow barbells.
Small rodents also frequently chew on their housing materials, so another useful present idea is cage accessories. Although these items take a lot longer to chew through than purpose-made chew toys, additional cage accessories can add variety for a small rodent.