Christmas Gifts for Pets

Is that you Santa Paws?

If you’re wondering what to buy your pet this festive season, we’ve rounded up our favourite dog, cat and rabbit gift ideas that’ll leave them barking and purring with excitement…

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According to our research, 4 in 5 pet owners will be buying gifts for their furry friends this Christmas, and almost 1 in 5 will even spend more on their pets than their partners!

From traditional fare such as foodie treats, chew toys and balls, to more extravagant gifts such as grooming treatments, a place at the Christmas dinner table and even holidays, UK pet owners are increasingly bringing our dogs, cats and rabbits in on the festive celebrations. And as part of our family units, our pets deserve the best care and attention, so do make sure your pet insurance is up to date in time for festive season.

When it comes to buying the purrrfect presents this year, check out our UK map below to see how your city fares – from top gifts to money spent…

Petplan Christmas Map.

The top reasons for buying Christmas presents for our pets were because ‘they’re part of the family (77%), ‘not wanting them to feel left out (44%) and ‘so they have something to unwrap alongside the rest of the family’ (33%).

And it’s not only regional differences the survey uncovered - among those spending more on their pets than their partners, it’s Gen Z who are leading the charge, with 18-24 year olds almost three times as likely to spend more on their pet than their partner than those aged 65+.

For more inspiration, take a look through our expert suggestions for pawfect pets presents this Christmas, as well as our top tips on how to ensure your pets stay safe throughout the festive season.

Best gifts for dogs

1. Tease their brain with a dog puzzle toy

A chew treat is great, but doesn’t require much brainpower – and every dog needs mental stimulation! Why not get your dog’s mind working with an interactive dog toy or puzzle feeder? There are countless designs to choose from, but if your pet is new to brain teasers, go simple to begin with. Dogs aren’t patient – if something’s too complicated, they’ll either ignore or destroy it! Hollow rubber toys you can stuff with hard-to-reach treats are great for all levels, from beginner to brainy. Puzzle feeders with manoeuvrable levers will not only provide a serious challenge, but also slow down fast eaters, reducing gassiness and helping digestion.

2. Treat them to something flashy

As well as adding festive cheer to your dog’s look, a light-up LED collar makes walks safer, especially on dark winter days. Drivers, joggers and cyclists will see your pet coming, and if you have a dark-coated dog, you’ll avoid those heart-stopping moments when they seem to vanish into thin air. Pick a light-up collar that’s sturdy enough to withstand your dog’s usual roly-poly shenanigans.

3. Invest in a dog activity tracker

Dog obesity is on the rise, and making sure your hound is getting enough exercise is one of the best things you can do for their health. Which makes these exercise-logging devices more than just a gimmick. You’ll just need to strap the activity tracker to your dog’s collar, download the accompanying app, and link it up with your smartphone or tablet. A tracker with in-built GPS will also help you locate your dog if they spots a squirrel and goes off-piste.

4. Pick out the perfect new collar

Your dog's collar should feel so comfortable, they’ll barely notice they’re wearing one. If your dog deserves an upgrade, key collar considerations include their neck measurements, breed, whether they are long or short-haired, and how sensitive they are in the neck area. Once you’ve sussed out the basics, go forth and shop! Dog accessories have never been more fabulous, from personalised and designer collars to diamanté or hand-tooled leather.

5. Keep it fresh with a dog water fountain

Not all gifts for dogs are good for their health, but a pet drinking fountain will give them access to a constant supply of fresh, filtered water. Get one that’s right for your dog’s breed and size. Dogs with flat faces, such as Pugs, will need a different kind of bowl to a Labrador, for example, while very tall dogs will prefer a higher model. It will not only help them stay hydrated, but also stop you worrying that you forgot to refresh their drinking bowl this morning.

Above all, perhaps the best way to show your dog you love them is to keep them safe and well, through the holiday season and beyond.

Best gifts for cats

1. A chasing toy

When the weather’s cold and miserable, your cat spends more time inside – so treat them to a gift that will help replace some of the physical activity they’d normally get outdoors. Battery-operated chasing toys and play circuits are ideal, engaging your cat’s natural senses of touch, hearing and sight. As Petplan vet Brian Faulkner explains, ‘They’re a great way for your cat to practise their instincts to hunt and toy with prey – which will help them to stay physically fit.’ Just make sure your cat has a chance to catch their “prey” at the end of play sessions to avoid frustration.

2. Cat puzzle games

It's also important to keep mental stimulation in mind.. Look for puzzle games, food mazes and activity boards with compartments where you can hide away treats for your cat to release using a variety of techniques. This provides a good challenge and helps your cat exercise their brain as they have to work out how to retrieve the treats. It’s a brilliant way to get your cat to use their natural problem-solving skills.

3. Free gifts for your cat

Strapped for cash this year? No worries! For most cats, an empty box generally brings just as much joy as whatever was once inside it. So as you unwrap your own gifts, pass on the empty boxes – and watch your cat have hours of festive fun that won’t cost you a penny.

Finding the purrfect pressies for our cats is just one way to show them how much you care, of course. Keep them safe and well through the holiday season with our expert advice on festive hazards and make sure their cover is up to date.

4. A cosy cat bed

Every pet should have their own special space to curl up and rest. Cat beds come in all sorts of materials and shapes: from faux-furry, velvety or felted to igloo, tunnel, cave or den! But whether you opt for something stylish to complement your interior design or go for a novelty option, it’s one of the most useful things you could give your cat at Christmas. And don’t worry if they already have one; cats will be happy to have even more choice…

5. The gift of grooming

As we know, most cats are eminently capable of grooming themselves. But if your pet is in need of extra-special attention, or you have a senior cat who’s struggling, why not book them a visit to a cat spa to enjoy a luxury treatment such as a paw massage, full-body groom or cat facial? Alternatively, buy a grooming brush or glove and treat them to some at-home pampering. Smoothly stroking your cat’s coat will gently remove tangles and loose hair, leaving them looking their festive best.

Best gifts for rabbits

1. Homemade treat box

Rabbits love little more than destroying cardboard boxes, and luckily there are plenty of those lying around at Christmastime. Use one (or more) to make a treat box, in this way:

  • Find a plain cardboard box and make sure there’s no ink on it, since this can be harmful to bunnies. Remove any staples, tape or other potentially hazardous edges.
  • Then, get some plain paper to wrap the box – plain brown paper is a good idea – and tie it all up with a piece of jute or natural ribbon.
  • Finally, present it to bunny for hours of happy chewing, scratching and hiding.

For an extra treat, add a little surprise inside the box, like a home-made bunny cracker, before you wrap it. This will be a great reward for them once they’ve finished digging through the barriers.

2. Christmas cracker, rabbit-style

Another improvised present is an easy-to-make Christmas cracker. It can be a really stimulating toy, and one that provides your rabbit with nutrients while acting as a boredom-breaker.

Take a cardboard toilet roll tube, and stuff it full of hay or leafy greens. Then wrap the tube in plain paper, twisting at the ends and tying with jute or natural string. Enjoy the fun as your bunny tosses it in the air and tries to get to the treats inside.

3. Christmas stocking

Many small animal toy and treat manufacturers put together special Christmas stockings for rabbits at this time of year. Ask at your local pet store or visit your preferred online retailer and search for ‘rabbit Christmas stocking’. Just be sure to check everything included is rabbit-safe!

4. Play tunnel

Rabbits need to feel safe and secure while resting, and play tunnels are readily available and great for bunnies when they need a break from the festivities. Your rabbit will spend hours pushing around the tunnel, hiding inside it, chewing on it – and sometimes even grooming it! Opt for one that is made from natural materials and doesn't have any glue, metal or plastic fastenings. You can even get them covered in compressed hay for an extra special treat.

5. Digging pit

It’s natural for rabbits to burrow and dig, but there’s only so much your carpet can take. Give them an outlet for this natural behaviour by assembling a digging pit. If you have a garden, make a hole at ground level and insert a large flower pot, packing the earth tightly around the sides. Then fill it with child-safe sand or soil, perhaps even burying some apple branches or hazel twigs to mimic the roots rabbits find when digging in the wild.

If your rabbit is strictly housebound, try a toy sandpit or a cardboard box with shredded paper, and watch those little digging feet go.

Festive pet safety

Whilst we all aim to have our pets’ best interests at heart, there are some things to be aware of when choosing the purrr-fect gift for your pet this Christmas:

1. Be careful with clothing

Remember, pets are animals, and not humans. Whilst outfits and accessories may look cute, pets aren’t dolls to be dressed up, and so any clothing gifts should be designed specifically for practicality and safety, like reflective jackets and collars. Even then, you should never force your pet to wear something if they’re showing signs of discomfort.

2. Brain training

Whilst lots of the toys we gift are great for encouraging physical activity, don’t forget that it can benefit our pets to be mentally stimulated too. Dog and cat puzzle toys will keep them entertained whilst challenging their cognitive skills.

3. Wrapping, ribbons and runaways

Wrapping our pets’ presents and placing them under the tree is a lovely idea but be cautious of the materials used. Dogs, cats and rabbits may want to run off with ribbons or sticky tape which could then be a choking hazard or damage their digestive system if swallowed, so avoid using them where possible, or help to unwrap your pet’s present on their behalf.

4. Safe feasting

Gifting foodie treats and serving up special meals is massively popular with pet owners but it’s important to make sure you’re not feeding your pet anything that could be dangerous. Chocolate is one of the most common food hazards to be aware of, but there are lots of other “human” foods, such as onions, nuts, blue cheese and dried fruit can be dangerous too. You should also avoid giving your pet any meat on the bone as this can be a choking hazard.

5. Pets are for life, not just for Christmas

We all know the phrase but it’s vital to remember. Whilst gifting a family member an animal may seem like a way of showing your love, there are lots of considerations that make this risky. Pets require a huge amount of care and responsibility, and so buying a pet should be a considered decision between everyone involved - and never a surprise.

Research conducted by 3Gem on behalf of Petplan November 2023

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