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Don't forget Fido this holiday season

Big box stores and specialty toy stores are not the only businesses that will see an increase in inventory this holiday season. Many consumers are just as passionate about their four-legged friends, reptiles and aquatic companions as they are of their children.

Pet stores are increasingly filled with puppy couture, collars that sparkle, even pet-sized canopy beds for that special dog or cat to rest its paws. The growing popularity of pampered pets can make the gift-giving decision that much more important for a pet owner.

Dr. Jennifer Coates of PetMD shared the best presents for pets are those that focus on what the pet likes to do. Just like a child doesn’t go crazy for a gift of clothing, a dog or cat will not react favorably to the gift of a new collar. While some may tout that their dog or cat loves their latest sweater or T-shirt, the reality is that that type of gift is more suited to the owner than the pet.

Pets, like children, much prefer toys.

“For dogs, we pretty much sell a lot of the Kong toy,” said Magdaleno Nevarez of Riverbank’s Petco. “That is the ‘must have’ every Christmas.

“It has a hole in the middle where you can put a treat or peanut butter,” he added of the popular toy.

According to Nevarez, dog toys and gifts do exceed the other pet categories, but cat toys are close behind.

“We sell more dog gifts during the Christmas holiday,” he said. “For cats we sell a lot of different types of items.”

Those range from catnip mice to laser teaser toys, scratching posts and more.

Pet kits are also popular among holiday consumers, Nevarez added, indicating that while they do not sell a lot of items related to the exotic animal category, they do sell a lot of small animals including hamsters and guinea pigs.

Meanwhile, another pet retailer, PetSmart, has a lot of new items to unveil for the holiday season.

This year, said PetSmart Director of Marketing Debbie Beisswanger, they are introducing a cocktail-inspired line from Martha Stewart Pets, so your pets can dress to impress at holiday parties.
With holiday-inspired dog bowls and beds, consumers can easily make sure their dog’s signature pieces are part of the holiday home décor.

Beisswanger also said to watch for popular human trends and brands in the pet world. Many people host tacky sweater parties every year, and this year, with a new Bret Michaels Pets Rock line following this inspiration, your pet could have the best sweater of them all. PetSmart is also introducing new holiday dog lines inspired by the movie "Frozen", as well as Hello Kitty. So from the more traditional gifts, to the fun and humorous, they’ve got your pet covered.

“At PetSmart, we find that every year pet parents include their pet in the holiday fun more and more. We’re also bringing trends and well-known brands from the human world to the pet world – like holiday party attire, both glam and tacky, bowls and beds with great design,” Beisswanger said.

And the holidays aren’t just reserved for dogs and cats. Smaller pets like fish and guinea pigs can get in on the fun, too. PetSmart has an entire line of holiday-themed fish tank décor, and your guinea pig can be a little helper in PetSmart’s elf costume or sport reindeer antlers to get in the holiday spirit.