© Matt Molloy/The Beacon
While shopping for your pet this Christmas, things like a new jacket, leash, bed, bag of treats, or dog food can be an excellent choice. Just ask Vinny, who obediently models a few gift ideas.
Gander — While you’re out scrambling to find that last-minute Christmas gift for the niece or nephew you somehow forgot, there may be another family member you might want to consider.
Why not take a trip to the nearest pet store to buy a new toy, treat or accessory for the dog, cat, fish or gerbil in your family.
You don’t have to spend $1.8 million on the 52-carat diamond dog collar featured on www.most-expensive.net, but you can buy items that to get a pooch’s tail wagging or the family cat purring.
Cassandra Gallant, the manager of Pet Central in Gander, said she orders more novelty items and clothing — which she refers to as pet bling — for the Christmas season.
Nowadays, Fido and Kitty are more like family members than pets.
“Sometimes, couples even prefer to have dogs instead of children, and for those who have both, they see the dog as being just as important as their children,” said Gallant, who owns a boxer and a pit bull.
Just as the role of the family pet has changed, so have the gifts. In the past, Gallant said, a lucky pet might receive a new pillow for Christmas. Today, that same pet might receive a pet futon.
And it doesn’t stop there. If Boots gets that new futon for Christmas, the owners have to make sure there are accessories to match. Otherwise, you could end up with a fashion faux pas on your hands.
“They would also get a jacket that goes with it, and a collar that matches,” she said with a laugh.
Of course, gifts don’t have to be extravagant. News collars and leashes, food or treats are good options. Or, if a dog or cat is sensitive to snow, a pair of booties would be welcomed.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but a great gift is new food that’s of higher quality than some of the food they’re eating now,” said Gallant.
“Buying food with no byproducts that’s healthy for the pet makes for a great gift.”
But stay away from junk food, she warns.
If a treat isn’t healthy, you’ll be doing the pet more harm than good.
“Junk food is junk food, so look at the ingredients,” said Gallant.
“If you look at the ingredients in a chocolate bar, you can see it’s junk food, and there are a lot of pet treats that are just junk. If it’s full of sugar and salt and flavouring, then they shouldn’t be eating it. Pigs ears (for dogs) can be high in fat, and sometimes a dog’s pancreas can get irritated from eating it. If a dog isn’t used to eating food that’s high in fat, and then they get a huge pig’s ear, they can have an attack in their pancreas.”
Gallant said to look for words like “real meat,” “real vegetables,” and “grain,” and if you see ingredients you can’t pronounce and you don’t know what they are, don’t buy it.
She also urges shoppers not to buy pets as gifts. She said so many animals that are given as gifts are returned to the SPCA, because the responsibilities of pet ownership are great.
“It’s the same as having a baby,” Gallant said.
“There’s so much work. Getting a pet should be a family decision, not a gift.”