You better not bark, you better not chew; don’t chase the cat, put down that shoe. Santa Paws is coming to town. And this year he has a growing number of four-legged friends on his “nice” list.
According to Chewy.com, 70% of U.S. households include at least one pet, and 94% of American pets received a Christmas present last year. That’s not all — 58% received at least two gifts, and more than half of U.S. pet owners wrapped their gifts to Spot, Buddy and Fluffy.
In dog-loving Temple, the numbers might even be higher.
“I always get Beau a few gifts,” said Cyndi Miller of Temple. “A new treat, a dog toy, a new shirt or sweater — whatever he needs.”
“We do stockings for our pets — dogs, a guinea pig and rabbits,” said Jessica Adkins. “My girls are adamant about it. We fill stockings with treats, toys, new leashes, collars and harnesses if they are needed.”
Need also plays a role in gifts Shannon and Brad Carey give their pets.
“They always get treats and toys,” Shannon Carey said. “Sometimes they get something bigger, depending on what they need around Christmas time.”
Sherry Burnett also plays Santa for her pets.
“Always,” the Temple woman said. “They are a part of the family.”
Mallory Anthony’s Baxter has his photo taken with Santa every year, and he gets gifts “from us and his grandparents.”
Anthony also owns Baxter’s Closet, a pet boutique located inside Vis-A-Vis Galleria, 3 W. Mesquite Ave. in Rogers.
“We sell pet clothes, toys, gifts and other animal accessories,” she said. The website is baxterscloset.com.
“The hottest dog toys for 2023 will be brain puzzles and snuffle mats,” she said. “Pet advent calendars also will be huge.”
Snuffle mats for dogs are usually made of fleece strips attached to a plastic base with holes in it. This allows for spaces where dog treats can be easily hidden, encouraging dogs to really use their noses to hunt and forage for the treats.
“Baxter will be getting an advent calendar, for sure,” Anthony said. “I made him one last year, but I’ll be stocking some premade calendars in my shop this year.”
“Although he doesn’t really need more toys, Santa will probably bring him some squeaky toys and a brain puzzle or two.”
Demand is high for Christmas gifts for furry family members, and businesses such as Pawsitive Artlook offer shoppers solutions.
“A lot of my clients order hand-painted pet-portrait tree ornaments during the holiday season,” said Nicole Carter, owner of the home-based Temple business. “They honor their pets who have passed and those that are still with them.”
“I personally hand paint or digitally create every custom piece that’s ordered,” she said. “Painting has always been a passion, and it’s been a lifelong dream to do this for a living.”
This holiday season, Pawsitive Artlook is offering pet portraits and custom artwork on wood and acrylic ornaments.
“These are my best sellers,” Carter said. “I also have some brand new options such as hand-painted custom water bottles and wood letters.”
“My hope for the coming new year is to paint more original pieces and to offer more affordable options for custom artwork for children in order to encourage and inspire their creativity,” she said.
“My dogs tear up toys in minutes so they only get new toys at Christmas and on their birthdays,” said Maddie Ortis, also of Temple. “We buy pig ears from local vendors so Fitzgerald and Larrold — pit bull brothers — have a special holiday treat. We wrap their presents and they get to open them on Christmas morning.”
Mobi Dog Pet Salon & Spa owner Brandi Nicole Reese said her shop is the perfect place to spoil a dog or cat during the holidays.
“We offer a large variety of gourmet frosted Christmas cookies and pupcakes,” she said. We also have pre-packaged stocking stuffers and a large selection of unique, holiday-themed toys.”
“We also have a large variety of holiday sweaters and warm attire for the dogs,” she said.
“Every year we have the Grinch stop by for free holiday photos with the dogs, and we also have seasonal scents and add-ons in the salon and spa,” Reese added.
“I believe people treat their dogs for Christmas because they are part of the family. You just can’t leave out your best friend at Christmas. The ones who always give unconditional love all year deserve only the best and shouldn’t be left out when it comes time to open those presents on Christmas morning.”
According to the American Pet Products Association, there are sound reasons for an increase in giving Christmas gifts for pets.
Demand for animal companionship soared during COVID-19 related lockdowns, and Americans spent more than $100 billion on pets for the first time in 2020, and that number climbed to $123.6 billion in 2021 and $136.8 billion in 2022. That figure includes expenses for medical care, food, supplies, services and the cost to buy or adopt the animal.
In 2023, Americans are on pace to spend $143.6 billion on their dogs, cats and other pets.
Given the support that many animals provided during the pandemic years, it’s natural for owners to want to continue pampering their pets. This year, spending on pets is expected to top $115 billion. Pet industry experts compare the influx of new dogs and cats to the baby boom that took place in the years following World War II.
Amy Strunk, Temple’s animal control supervisor and director of the Temple Animal Shelter, reminds local residents that shelter animals also have needs and the shelter welcomes toys and other donations.
“Toys are always needed for dogs of all sizes and for our cats,” she said. “And, we are always needing dry dog food. We prefer the smaller bites, that way the food can be fed to large dogs and smaller ones. Cat litter is always needed, and we also need blankets, towels and cleaning supplies.”