Be generous to Fido

Don’t forget your pets during the holidays

Any pet owner will tell you: Pets are members of the family. We love them, and we like to spoil them. And they give us love in return. Even the most hardcore, grizzled hunter that considers his dogs as mere working animals gets a warm feeling from the unconditional love a wet kiss or a cold nose represents. As a family member, your pet deserves to be included during the holidays.

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I must disclose that I am a dog man. My family had dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, lizards and fish when I was growing up, but now I just have a dog. I’ll try to be fair and balanced to all of petkind, but I must admit my canine bias.

Pets and owners share a symbiotic relationship, and pet-gift giving should be no different. In other words, you might as well get something out of it, too. By all means, get your pet something they will love, but make sure it makes you laugh, saves you money, keeps your pet healthy or at least makes you feel good.

Another important pet-giving theme is use of the stocking. What better way to include your pet in the family’s holiday revelry? And a stocking keeps any edible or chewable gifts out of reach. There’s no need to wrap gifts either. Some dogs may like to tear open gifts, and some cats and hamsters may like to use a box as a bed, but just keep it simple. Aren’t you going wrap enough gifts?

You can find just about anything on the Internet these days. So if you know what you want, or if you have something exotic or unusual in mind, point-and-click away.

I did some cyber window-shopping and found a plethora of useful and amusing gifts. My favorite is the Dog Lips Chew Toy from Orvis ( for $15. They’re big smiling lips, reminiscent of the Rolling Stones logo but without the tongue, and they’re hilarious. They’ll put a smile on your face, too.

Another item that caught my eye was the Remote Control Robot Cat Exerciser—it’s basically an electronic mouse—for $29.95 from The Sharper Image. Your cat and kids will love it.

The other logical places to shop are pet stores. Feed stores have quality products but limited selections, and the box stores have low prices but none of the experience and expertise offered by full-service pet shops like locally owned and operated Chico Pet Works. They carry supplies, food and gift items for a wide variety of pets, and have a friendly, knowledgeable staff that’s more than willing to help you fill your pet’s stocking.

All beings, human or beast—even beastly humans—like tasty treats. They fit nicely in stockings and are a guaranteed hit with pets of all kinds. I recommend the healthy dog biscuits from Canidae, which also sells top-of-the-line food, and the all-natural treats from Mother Hubbard. Healthy treats and top quality food are also available for most other common pets.

We all like lively treats at the holidays, and cats are no different. My advice: Get the catnip. It makes everything fun for your feline friends, and amusing for you. Put a little on a scratching post, or tie fishing line or string to a new toy or one your cat’s favorites, and let the fun begin. Not all catnip is the same, however, according to Pet Works owner, Chris Pozar. “You can smell the difference,” said Pozar. “We have a very high quality catnip available right now. It’s the good stuff!”

Another interesting item is dog and cat beds with heated and chilled inserts to keep your pet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. These beds are also designed to fit into standard-size crates, and may just keep your pets off the furniture. Made by Four Paws, the sleeping pads range between $18.99 and $59.99 and the inserts are between $10 and $20.

Chew toys are always a great way to go, and the king of all chew toys—the king of all dog toys for that matter—is the Kong. This bell-shaped, hollow, chewable, bounceable, rubbery toy is practically indestructible. Four Paws offers a very similar and equally hard to harm version for a few dollars less than the original Kong. Some float and some have a rope attached to facilitate throwing and retrieving. I recommend putting some peanut butter inside. You ever watch a dog eat peanut butter? Chewing on this all-time favorite also helps keep teeth clean.

A leash is another gift good for human and animal. It will serve as a reminder to get you and your pet out the door. I have a friend who insists that smelling for dogs is like reading for humans. It’s how they get information and mental stimulation.

Of course, the best gift you can give your pet is a friend.