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These gifts are sure to win rousing woofs and rave meows
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These gifts are sure to win rousing woofs and rave meows

If your four-legged family member is on your holiday shopping list, you’re not alone.

The American Pet Products Association estimates that nearly 70% of U.S. households have a pet and that last year, pet owners spent $72 billion on their furry (or scaly) loved ones.

Your pet likely has a favorite treat, but if you’re struggling to choose a fun or practical gift for your pet, we got some ideas from several Region pet stores and pet product manufacturers.

For a comfy retreat

Every pet deserves a comfy retreat after a long day.

Nikki Sirois, assistant manager at Ted’s Pet & Feed in Schererville and Lansing, says memory foam orthopedic dog beds ($60 and up, tedsfeedstore.com) can be the perfect solution.

“The beds provide extra cushion for any dog, and they don’t wear away as quickly,” she said.

They are especially suited to senior dogs and those with orthopedic issues and older dogs, Sirois said, adding that “puppies all the way to seniors, small dogs all the way to large breed” will love them.

For cats that like their own personal space, Cat in the Box ($25 and up, thecatisinthebox.com) offers a fun take on cardboard boxes.

Owner Dawn LaFontaine said she wanted to create an Instagram-able cardboard box that could be easily disassembled and put away when company visits. Made with recycled cardboard, the boxes come in designs including a milk carton, cheese wedge and a seasonal gingerbread house.

Those needing a little added warmth may enjoy the comfy feeling of the Holiday Tails Oh Deer Ugly Christmas Sweater for dogs ($18 and up, petco.com). The knitted sweater will complement any owner’s attire at holiday gatherings.

For owner and pet

Purchasing an outdoor bird feeder is a great gift for a human and companion that enjoys sitting at the window and observing nature in the yard.

Ted’s Pet & Feed has a variety of bird feeders ($20 and up) that accommodate a range of seed, Sirois said. It carries squirrel-proof feeders as well.

For pets that play hard, there's a Dirty Dog Mat ($29 and up, alsipnursery.com).

Sandy Richwalski, pet department manager at Alsip Home & Nursery in St. John, says these mats absorb 10 times the amount of water as other door mats, she said.

“That’s a win-win for everybody,” she said. “Happy owner, happy puppy.”

The store also offers a line of mats to put outside litter boxes to catch stray litter and help keep the area tidy, she said.

Cat owners who like the sound of water fountains may enjoy Cat Taps ($269 and up, CatTaps.com) just as much as the kitty. This ceramic water fountain  is handcrafted in Ft. Wayne, and meets a cat’s preference to drink from moving water, founder Cristina Silva said.

No two fountains are alike and can add a bit of art to a cat owner’s home, Silva said. The company also donates 5% of proceeds to a different local animal shelter each year.

Fun and games

What pet doesn’t love a good toy? Yet at times, matching the right toy to your pet’s personality can be a challenge.

For dogs, Alsip Home & Nursery sells a line of popular Kong toys ($3-$27).

“They’re so great because they are always so versatile,” Richwalski said. “We have dispensers, too, that keep your dogs busy while you’re cooking holiday dinner.”

Brainy Pup ($39, brainypup.com) has a solution to keep dogs engaged. The subscription-based service whose mission is to give dogs stimulating fun while preventing premature dog dementia, allows pet owners to rent premium enrichment toys.

Did someone say treats?

Though pet treats may be a usual line item in the budget along with groceries, the holidays offer a fun opportunity to pick up something special.

Though many dogs love rawhide treats, they can be difficult to digest. Alsip Home's Richwalski recommends No-Hide chews ($1-$15), which come in a variety of flavors such as chicken and peanut butter.

“Everyone wants to give something they can eat, but rawhide treats can take longer to digest,” she said. “These are great because they don’t have that effect on dogs.”

Pet Supplies Plus in Valparaiso carries a variety of special baked Christmas cookies ($1.48 and up, petsuppliesplus.com) for dogs that are perfect as stocking stuffers and look pretty mouthwatering. 

Though most treats are geared toward dogs and cats, Phil Van Treuren says his company caters to larger four-legged friends.

Treuren owns SaddleBox ($35 per month, SaddleBox.net), a monthly subscription box for horses. He says his boxes include gourmet treats, grooming tools, tack and even some gifts for owners as well.

“We have thousands of subscribers across the U.S. and Canada, and each box purchased helps support horse rescue facilities,” he said.

For peace of mind

Owners concerned about their pets’ safety can feel a little more assured that when their pet sneaks out, they will return safely home. The Wag! Tag ($10, wagwalking.com) comes with a unique QR code that links to your pet’s online profile, which includes everything from emergency contacts to secure drop-off locations.

An enhanced subscription also provides support through a recovery team if your dog goes missing.

Though a pet’s death can be difficult, a store in Crown Point, Moriarty’s Gem Art, offers a specially designed dog paw pendant ($359, moregems.com) for owners who want to remember their loved one.

It is available in 14-karat white gold, yellow gold and sterling silver and can be engraved with a favorite saying or pet’s name, owner and gem cutter Steve Moriarty said.

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