The holidays are here and while you’re shopping for gifts for him, for her and anyone else on your list, be sure to remember the furry friends in your life. All dogs big and small, young or old deserve a present (or two) this holiday season. That’s why we talked to veterinarians and dog experts to get the low-down on what to get dogs and their parents this year.
“I personally focus on practical gifts for pets, because I feel they have more potential to be useful in the long term,” says Dr. Mark D. Freeman, doctor of veterinary medicine and clinical assistant professor at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. “While yummy treats and fun toys are entertaining, they tend to be gone quickly.”
“Probably the single most important thing when considering a gift for a pet or pet parent is making sure it is something safe for the pet,” says Freeman. He warns against retractable leashes and encourages owners to research the treats and toys they’re buying to ensure they’re not harmful.
Dr. Hunter Finn, a veterinarian and owner of Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, offers pet tips and insights to more than 2 million followers on TikTok. For this holiday season, he echoes the importance of finding safe products, especially when you’re looking at toys. “When it comes to dog toys I have a rule I like to follow: If a dog toy starts breaking/tearing/becoming stringy, it needs to get thrown away and replaced with a new toy,” Finn says. “I promise that [a] new toy is cheaper than a surgery to remove the old shredded toy.”
And if there is a spoiled pup who already has everything, there are plenty of good causes to donate to. Freeman suggests shopping at The Animal Rescue Site, since a portion of its profits helps purchase food for shelter animals. “I purchase many of my holiday gifts for pet parent friends from The Animal Rescue Site, and have never been disappointed,” says Freeman. Mallory Kerley, marketing director at Muddy Paws Rescue, also suggests donating to your local rescue group to help dogs, cats and other animals in need. “I believe that the best gift for any dog lover is saving a pup’s life in their honor,” Kerley says.
Below, we’ve rounded up all the products our dog experts recommended, along with some of our personal favorites that follow their guidelines. From toys and treats to pet carriers, travel essentials and yes, carpet cleaners too, here are our favorite gifts for any dog and dog owner in your life. Have a cat? Check out vet-recommended cat gifts too.
This calendar from trusted brand Kong includes both treats and toys to celebrate the holiday season.
Freeman recommends shopping at The Animal Rescue Site, and this box is a great gift for any dog. It includes five premium pet products including tasty treats and fun toys. The best part? Each box feeds at least 142 shelter animals. You can sign up for a subscription to get this box every month to continue helping animals in need.
“A great, long-lasting rubber chew from Kong always seems to do the trick. They’re great for stuffing with more tasty treats, and you don’t have to worry about them breaking off any sharp pieces that could harm your pup,” says Kerley. Tip: Stuff your Kong with peanut butter then throw it in the freezer so it can last extra long.
“This is a wearable GPS tracker that can monitor your pet’s location, activity and health,” says Freeman. “It has a 20-day battery life and includes a night light to make it easy to keep up with your pet in the dark. These devices are going to become very popular and very useful in helping keep pets healthy and safe.”
“Under the Weather makes incredible products that every dog needs at some point in their life,” says Kerley. “All of our fosters are gifted the bland diet to help soothe those tummies after they first arrive, and it’s always helpful to have it on hand!”
“We need safer chew toys as they prevent choking hazards and won’t cause tooth damage like many other chew toys,” says Finn. “Plus, every pet owner wants a toy that is durable and will keep their dog entertained for long periods of time (so you don’t have to). West Paw products are some of the safest that I have found in both regards to preventing choking and tooth damage.”
A puzzle toy from West Paw that you can stuff treats inside for hours of entertainment. It’s made of non-toxic, BPA-free materials that can withstand even the toughest chewers.
If the dog you’re shopping for has a prey drive, they’ll love this toy that makes them think they’re hunting squirrels inside a tree.
Let your dog forage for their food with this simple, cheap snuffle mat. Just fold the kibble into the layers of fabric and watch as your pup sniffs and digs for their food.
The weather is getting colder, which means it’s time for your dog to layer up. We adore the sweaters and jackets from Little Beast. They’re soft, easy to put on and, most importantly, unbelievably cute.
This two-in-one dog bed has a removable insert that gives your dog even more places to nap. Our favorite feature of this bed is its raised, pillowtop exterior, which is the perfect place to rest a snoot.
If your dog likes to burrow and get cozy, they’ll love this super-fluffy donut bed that encircles them in comfort.
This padded harness from Ruffwear is easy to put on and super comfortable, and comes with two attachment points.
The weather might be cold, but it’s never too early to get ready for the heat of next summer. This sprinkler pad is a fantastic way to keep your dog cool and entertained in the hotter months.
Dog paws aren’t as durable as you might think. Whether it’s hot cement, snow, dirt or sand, there are plenty of environments that can be irritating or even harmful to your dog’s paws. That’s why this wax from Musher’s Secret is a must-have for any dog owner. The wax protects their paws from the elements while remaining breathable so they can walk confidently.
Carrying a dog bowl around can be a pain. Opt for this water bottle attachment instead, which easily allows you to give your dog some water so they can hydrate on their walks.
These collapsible bowls are another great option for travel. Skip the bulky bowls and easily give your dog some water or food at the hotel, airport or trailhead.
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The famed Little Green machine from Bissell is one of the most popular carpet cleaners, and for good reason. It easily sucks up messes on carpets, couches and any other sort of upholstery you can think of.
“This wide-angle HD lens camera includes night vision and 8x zoom capabilities, with a built-in speaker and two-way audio plus a treat dispenser,” says Freeman. “Lots of pet owners are having to return to ‘in office’ jobs and this makes leaving pets alone at home a bit less stressful for the owners and the pets.”
“I am a big fan of having cameras in the house so I can check on my pups when I am at work or away for longer periods of time,” says Finn. “There are many different brands depending on what you’re looking for, for example, many can integrate with your home security system.” This popular camera also dispenses treats and comes with a companion app so you can always check in on your dogs when you’re gone.
“These genetic ancestry detection systems have become very popular with the parents of ‘mixed breed’ dogs,” says Freeman. “A simple cheek swab collects the material needed to perform a DNA matching test that can determine the predominant breeds found in your pet. The results can be fun and surprising, but can also provide useful information related to breed-specific health concerns.”
“The Pet Hair Remover Glove is a fantastic device that allows you to groom your pet at the same time you pet them,” says Freeman. “The pet will love the stimulation of the gentle, raised rubber teeth, and you’ll love having less pet hair to clean up.”
When training, it’s crucial to have easy, quick access to treats. That’s where this pouch from Wild One comes in. With its easy-open mouth and adjustable strap so it can be worn as a fanny pack or across your shoulder, you’ll wonder how you went on walks without it.
This fanny pack from Wilder Dog includes multiple zippered pockets so you can keep high-value treats separated from low-value ones, and your phone separated from all those crumbs.
If you ever drive with your dog in the back seat, you’re probably more than familiar with all the dirt and hair that comes with it. Keep those seats nice and clean with this seat cover from Ruffwear.
You bought your dog a sweater, but you deserve one too! This Etsy shop can take a photo of your doggy and embroider their face onto a sweater. Just be sure to order soon to get it before the holidays.
Carry your canine on your back with this nifty carrier backpack. Dogs weighing 18 pounds or less will stay cozy with this backpack’s Sherpa-lined bedding.
Freeman recommends this book, which explores how we interpret a dog’s body language and how they interpret ours.