PAMPER YOUR PET
Family pets may not understand the meaning behind the holiday season, but they still love getting presents. Whether pet parents are looking for stocking stuffers or something more substantial, it's easy to stay on budget when gift shopping for furry friends. Creative and crafty types can even make presents. These budget-friendly gift ideas for dogs and cats will be greeted with wagging tails and loud purring.
The Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Recycle Bone ($15 on Amazon) is non-toxic, easy to clean, and recyclable. It's also made of recycled material. Although the toy generally garners good reviews, a few dog owners say their pup was able to chew through the toy, and they would choose a tougher alternative in the future.
For dogs that prefer a chew toy that can be (slowly) devoured, rawhide is the way to go. Dried hide starts tough and softens in dogs' mouths, making it less likely than a bone to break off and cause internal injuries. Prices depend on size, quantity, and quality, but many rawhide toys start at about $3 to $6 each. Some dog owners prefer to buy rawhide from manufacturers that keep the whole production process in the U.S.A., such as Wholesome Hide.
CAT TEASER WAND
Cats enjoy all sorts of simple pleasures, whether it's the dancing beam of a laser pointer or a bit of yarn. One best-selling and inexpensive toy is the Cat Charmer from Cat Dancer Products (under $4 on Amazon).
It may not be the most original idea, but it's unlikely that a dog will complain when a new squeaky toy appears. Kong offers a variety of cute options (about $8 on Amazon) that come with an extra layer of cloth and minimal fill to improve durability while limiting potential mess.
Complex cat furniture, such as a multi-tier cat tree or a suspended cat trapeze, isn't especially budget-friendly or easy to make. Square Cat Habitat sells these for $75 to $105, but a DIY perch yields a similar result for far less. Also, the cardboard boxes that stack up around the holidays are among the cheapest, easiest cat gifts of all. Leave out one or two for playtime and napping.
TENNIS BALL LAUNCHER
Love to play fetch but hate bending down to pick up a slimy ball? A tennis ball launcher, such as those made by Chuckit (starting at $10 on Amazon), solve both problems.
Specially designed shock-absorbing leashes lessen the strain on dogs and their owners during walks and runs. Some just add an elastic bungee section to an otherwise standard leash (starting at $12 on Amazon). Others (including one for $28.80 on Amazon) incorporate padded handles, reflective surfaces, and a control section to keep dogs close.
Silly-looking sweaters seem to be a standard holiday gift for many people, so much so that stores now sell intentionally ugly sweaters during this season. Pet owners need not go that route, although it is an option ($16 on Amazon). No matter the pattern, a small or short-haired dog may appreciate a sweater or coat during winter walks.
HOMEMADE CAT TREATS
When the family gathers together to enjoy a homemade meal, the family pet should be able to do the same. Making dog and cat treats is easy, especially when using common ingredients. One recipe for cats from PetPlace involves mixing shredded chicken with chicken broth, butter, flour, and cornmeal. Baking the dough results in firm biscuits.
HOMEMADE DOG TREATS
Rarely will a dog reject leftovers or a few scraps from the table, but homemade treats are a fun gift for the holidays. Combine flour with puréed baby food and bake the mixture according to a recipe posted on Curbly. Whole Foods offers a more complex recipe calling for banana, oat flour, rolled oats, parsley, egg, and peanut butter.
Treat balls are a surefire way to keep dogs (and some cats) busy. The balls slowly dispense food while rolling around a room, providing a good mix of excitement, distraction, and exercise. Treat balls come in various shapes and sizes but are invariably cheap (starting at about $4 for cats and $6 for dogs on Amazon).
DRESS-UP BOW TIES
For pet owners seeking something a little dressier than their pets' everyday fur coat, a cat or dog bow tie is always in vogue. Available from local shops, pet store chains, and handmade marketplaces such as Etsy, these attractive little accessories cost $5 and up. An alternative is the pet necktie (starting at just under $8 on Amazon).
Cats and dogs can get matted fur, but a new brush can keep a coat shiny and soft. One inexpensive option is DakPets' groom tool (starting at $14 on Amazon). The simple, stainless steel comb snags shedding fur before it winds up on carpets, clothes, or furniture.
Treats are a go-to for many pet owners seeking inexpensive gifts, and a fancy wet cat food or even a fresh piece of high-quality fish is sure to induce purring. Cat owners who want to be sure they're feeding their pets the best can take the opportunity to have a vet perform a body condition analysis and recommend food options.
CASINO GAMES FOR DOGS
Interactive toys can be loads of fun, particularly when there's a treat at the end. Nina Ottosson makes several "casino" games that require dogs solve a puzzle to collect hidden treats. There are three difficulty levels to choose from depending on the dog's familiarity with this sort of game (starting at $16 on Amazon).
Catnip is a blast for cats that enjoy it. Some toys have catnip built in, and it can be applied to a toy or scratching post that lacks the herb. A 1-ounce bottle of catnip spray is about $4 on Amazon.
COZY DOG BED
Beds and blankets wear out over time, and the holidays provide a good excuse for an upgrade. Beds can be a significant expense, especially for larger dogs (the Furhaven Deluxe Orthopedic Mattress sells for $30 on Amazon), but they last for years. Place a worn shirt or sweater on the bed for the first few days to give it a familiar, comforting scent and ease the transition.