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Pets Like Presents, Too!

Salty Paws

Santa Paws is coming to town, and he is bringing presents for all of the fur kids in the household.

After all, why should pets be left out of the holiday festivities?

“Pets are members of the family, and pet owners want to have gifts waiting under the tree for their pets as well,” said Heather Blum, co-owner of the independently owned pet supply store, Petagogy, with locations in Shadyside, Greensburg, and inside Humane Animal Rescue’s East End Shelter. “We also see many kids coming in with parents to pick out holiday presents for their pets, and parents remark that their kids will have questions if Santa doesn’t leave a gift for their pet.”

Plus, she added, it is hard to argue that holiday pet products are fun to shop for as well as to give.

For dogs, she said that holiday-themed toys and treats are always bestsellers, especially stuffed dog toys from Fluff & Tuff. The company changes up their holiday assortment each year and always offers a limited edition charity toy where they donate a portion of the proceeds to animal shelters and rescues around the country.

She added that Bocce’s Bakery dog treats are popular, and this year the company will introduce treats for cats.

“Additionally, the ‘25 days of Christmas Advent Calendar’ trend has trickled down to pets, and we will have dog treat Advent calendars from Bocce’s Bakery and Honey I’m Home this holiday season,” said Blum. “People will also splurge and buy their pets bigger ticket items for Christmas like new beds and scratchers/cat trees.”

Blum said that Petagogy likes to try out new toys and treats each season. “Last year’s hit toy was the Yule Log from PLAY, which could be used as a treat-hiding enrichment toy for dogs,” said Blum, adding that this toy will be back in stock this season.

Ann Straub, owner of the Holistic Pet Nutrition Center in Harmony, agreed that pets are viewed as part of the family. “From Boomers to Gen X to Gen Z, pets are ‘children’ who give and receive love, provide companionship, and add value to everyday, thus increasing humans’ quality of life,” she explained.

Blum said that while dogs dominate the holiday gift category, products for cats are catching up. Straub agreed, adding that even birds, fish, horses, goats, chickens and guinea pigs are the recipients of holiday gifts. For cats, Straub sells catnip or Silvervine treats or toys, while dogs enjoy squeaky toys or toys that encourage humans to interact with them, such as frisbees and balls.

In addition, Straub said that interactive feeding toys are very popular, as well as toys that have features to hide treats. “For example, frozen raw bones effectively clean teeth, but they can be reused repeatedly to stuff with food to freeze—oftentimes raw food or wet food—for the pet to have to work at eating. This stimulates the pet’s brain and gives them something positive to do.

“Another example is lick mats, which are silicone mats with raised treads that you spread a thin layer of food on,” she added. “The pet has to lick repeatedly to eat the food. Licking is a calming activity that can soothe them.”

She also sells tons of gift certificates around the holiday season.

Salty Paws Pittsburgh in Lawrenceville is Pennsylvania’s first doggie ice cream shop, though the ice cream is lactose-free and is a special recipe blend that is digestible by dogs. Owner Jessica Kury said that the holidays are the busiest time for the shop. “People love to do stockings and buy gifts for their pups,” she said.

Ready-made stocking stuffers filled with bags of treats are popular, though customers like to fill the stockings on their own with treats, powdered ice cream that can be made at home, and dog ‘beer’ (which are different flavored broths that can be used as a food topper or be used to make ice cubes).

Like Petagogy, Salty Paws also sells Advent calendars filled with treats that fly off the shelves. “People love toys at holiday time; those will go fast. Holiday-themed stuffies, like reindeer, Santa and penguins, are always super popular,” added Kury.

Kury will also feature some special ice cream flavors for the winter holidays.

One Haute Dog, a pet boutique in Ross Park Mall, focuses on both toys and clothing for pets. Owner Jay Wiktorzewski said that the fashion parody toys have always sold well. (Think ‘Chewy Vuiton,’ ‘Sniffany,’ ‘Grrucci,’ ‘Fursace,’ ‘Chewnel,’ ‘Jimmy Chew’ and the like).

“Coats and sweaters are more popular than ever for pets,” said Wiktorzewski. “I think it’s just becoming a little more socially acceptable. I think some people think it’s crazy and some people realize it can be practical. It really depends on the dog. A lot of time it’s just for fun.”

Other popular holiday clothing items for pets are red and green Christmas-themed pajamas as well as dog onesies and holiday dresses for female dogs. “We also carry dog-themed stockings, and we sell a lot of things that worked for stocking stuffers, such as gifts, toys and treats, all Christmas-themed,” he said.

When you are making your shopping lists for the winter holiday gift-giving season, it would be paw-sitively ruff to forget about your fur-ever friend, so make sure to buy something fetching for your best friend. It’s the leash you could do. Happy Howlidays!

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