Seven Christmas gift ideas for pets

When you’re making your list and checking it twice, don’t forget to count the nicest boys and girls of all – your pets! While Spot and Whiskers might not understand the true meaning of Christmas, they still sense the excitement, joy, and love in the air on December 25. Why not give them a gift of their own to open?

Not sure what to put in a stocking for someone without opposable thumbs? Try one of our ideas for the best dog gifts and best cat gifts for your best friend.

A new toy to chew, bat, or tug
There are plenty of gimmicky toys out this time of year – plush Santa Clauses, gingerbread men, snowmen, candy canes, Christmas trees, and more line the shelves in many stores’ pet sections. But just because Christmas dog toys are big business doesn’t mean they’re all right for your pets. Many dogs and cats destroy plush toys—a danger if they try to eat the stuffing.

Instead, use the special occasion as a reason to invest in a quality toy. Rubber Kong toys are durable and long-lasting, and challenge your pet, as they must work to get the filling out of the center of the toy. Other puzzle toys are great too – they stimulate your pet’s brain and keep them sharp.

Want to keep it simpler (and cheaper)? For dogs, a rope bone not only keeps them busy, but helps keep teeth clean, too. For kitties, a feather toy never goes amiss!

A Christmas treat, savory or sweet
No doubt you give your fur babies plenty of treats every day of the year, but Christmas morning is a great time to give them something special. No, not Santa’s leftover chocolate chip cookies! But a gourmet cookie from a pet store makes for a great treat for your four-legged friend.

Want to take it to the next level? Make a homemade treat! There are plenty of recipes online (just make sure they come from a reputable source) for homemade pet treats, or try one of these recipes:

Cat treats:
10 oz canned salmon (undrained)
1 egg, beaten
2 cups whole wheat flour
Miniature cookie cutter

Pulse salmon in a food processor until finely chopped. In a large bowl, combine the salmon with the egg and the flour until a tacky dough forms (add flour as needed to make dough more firm; add water if it’s too dry). Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s about ¼ inch thick, then use your cookie cutter to cut out treats. Bake the treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (or until they’re slightly browned and crunch). Allow to cool before serving, and keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks. No cookie cutter? Try using a pizza slicer to make small squares!

Dog treats:
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour
Miniature cookie cutter

Beat pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and eggs until well-combined. Gradually add in 2 ½ cups of flour, beating at low speed until just incorporated. Add an additional ¼ cup of flour at a time until the dough is tacky, but not sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface a few times, then roll it out until it’s about ¼ inch thick, then use your cookie cutter to cut your treats. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let cool before serving. No cookie cutter? Try using a pizza slicer, or use an item you have on-hand, such as a water bottle cap or mouth of a small glass.

A romp in the snow
Your dog doesn’t understand opening gifts, but he does understand special treats, and that can be as simple as extra time with him. Take your pup to the dog park, a dog-friendly bar or patio, or even on a nice, long walk around the neighborhood. Your dog doesn’t need anything fancy – just some time with his favorite human!

Your cat’s very own Christmas tree
A cat tree is fun for your cat to climb and play on, and it provides a safe space for your cat. It encourages exercise, which is vital to your cat’s health. If you’ve been putting off the purchase of a cat tree, Christmas might be a great occasion to splurge on one. No need to feel guilty about keeping your cat away from your Christmas tree when you’re offering him one of his own!

A place for sugarplums to dance in their heads
Many pets have sleeping spaces that they love, and they’ll never sleep anywhere else. However, some pets respond very well to a new bed or blanket to sleep on. Nothing beats that “clean sheets” feeling!

Don them in their gay apparel
While your husky or Saint Bernard might not need a sweater, a Chihuahua or Sphynx cat might appreciate an extra layer when the temperatures drop. Most pet sweaters are based on the length of your pet from base of the neck to base of the tail. Some larger dogs should also be measured around the widest part of the chest, too. Consider pet Christmas pajamas, too! Shouldn’t everybody match in those great Christmas photos?

Techy gadgets – they’re not just for your kids
Exercise your pet while you’re at work? Call your pet during the day? There are so many new possibilities with new technology. A combo camera/treat dispenser helps you keep in touch with (and reward) your pet while you’re gone. An automatic ball thrower for the dog who can play infinite games of fetch, or an automatic, interactive laser toy for the restless kitty limits destructive behaviors and keeps them fit.

At the end of the day, though, the only gift your pets really want is your love. New toys and beautifully wrapped gifts are fun, and make beautiful Instagram opportunities, but a few tummy rubs and ear scratches go a long way in your pet’s eyes. When you’re happy, your pets are happy!