Perfect presents for pets

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Think before gifting: A pet as a unique gift for someone this year, think carefully before making the purchase. A pet should never be a surprise gift for someone who will have to care for it. | File Photo

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When making out your holiday shopping list, be sure to add something for your finned, furred and feathered friends. Loyal companions and family members, they’re naughty and nice all at once, so don’t forget them this holiday season.

Some shops in the Southland are set up to help find the perfect gift for the beloved pet.

Chew On This Dog Barkery, 21 Ash St., Frankfort, has a wide variety of novelty dog gifts this year, including a full holiday dinner (a can of stew with a pie or a cookie), toys shaped like the sausage gift sets made popular by Hickory Farms, and fun treat containers (with items to put in them), owner Teresa Kara said.

The key when shopping for any four-legged friend is making sure the gift is appropriate for the size and type, according to Joy Metzger, owner of Joy’s Best Friends Best Bites, 13034 S. LaGrange Road, Palos Park. Many pet owners are becoming more savvy about what they feed their animals, and many dogs and cats have specialized diets.

“Everybody’s dog has allergies nowadays,” she said.

Metzger carries treats that are wheat-, corn- and soy-free, a good choice for even the next-door neighbor’s pet that you may not know well.

A bone might seem like a good gift for a dog, but check the label before buying, Kara said. Pet items from China have been recalled several times recently, and their quality can’t be guaranteed. The best way to make sure an item is safe is to buy American.

“I’d look for American made in anything you’re giving,” she said.

When buying toys, consider how destructive the animal is, Kara advised. Chew On This carries durable corduroy toys for dogs that tend to rip toys apart.

Don’t leave out the small animals, birds, and fish.

Animal Krackers, 3309 115th St., Merrionette Park, has a wide array of merchandise for those creatures too, including aquariums, food and accessories. The store carries small animals as well, according to manager Claire Moroney.

“We specialize in fish,” she said.

Pets as presents

To those considering a pet as a unique gift for someone this year, think carefully before making the purchase. A pet should never be a surprise gift for someone who will have to care for it; the decision to raise an animal is a very big one, Metzger said.

“It’s a really big responsibility,” she said.

For many pets, dogs especially, personalities can be so different that the whole family should research breeds, shelters, etc., and, if possible, meet the animal before bringing it home, according to Kara.

“There’s a lot of things that have to match up,” she said.

Parents who have decided to surprise children with a dog should research breeds thoroughly. Consider a breed that is typically good with kids and fits the lifestyle and activity level of the family. Then, research breeders or breed-specific rescues, or search local shelters, Metzger said.

For the holiday gift, wrap up a pet bed, toys, or food dishes. Moroney’s store has a selection of all those items.

“We have everything you need for your new puppy,” she said.

Later, the whole family can visit shelters and breeders to ensure the pet gets along with everyone.

Even fish and small animals are easier and more fun to obtain that way, Moroney said. Bring home a tank or cage, then go out together to find the animal. Animal Krackers has some special, fun aquarium dwellers this year, including a freshwater fish that glows in the dark, she said.

More information about Chew on This Dog Barkery is at (815) 806-8081 or chewonthisdogbarkery.com

More information about Joy’s Best Friends Best Bits is at (708) 448-1515 or joysbestfriends.com.

More information about Animal Krackers is at (708) 389-7248.