Pet Gift Guide: An Expert’s Guide to the Best Dog and Cat Toys in 2022-2023

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Pet owners can be a notoriously particular bunch: people who dote on their animals tend to have very specific ideas of what’s best for their furry companions. Giving these folks a gift for the holidays that they won’t just have a use for but will actually cherish can be downright frustrating.

The difficulty with selecting an ideal gift for a pet owner (or their pet) starts with the incredible variety of animals that now share people’s homes worldwide. A perfect gift for a lazy tabby that spends most of his time on the sunny side of the couch cushion may offer little to an overactive Dalmatian.

Similarly, owners themselves often show a broad range of lifestyles. Your outdoorsy friend may have little patience for apps and video games, while the techy urbanite in your social or family circle may not be too excited to try out that new hiking backpack you got them.

This guide is intended to give an overview of a few of the diehard classics of pet gifts and suggest a few ideas for some new directions. Thanks to the wonders of e-commerce, these gift ideas for pet owners are widely available.

Classic Gift Ideas for Dog and Cat Owners

Ball Games

Having a ball to throw around is nearly required for most breeds of dogs, and in most cases, the dog owner in your life will have a few well-chewed throwing toys lying around.

However, even this classic among classics has benefitted from technological innovations over the years, with the Chuckit! being among the most prominent examples. This device largely prevents one of the less pleasant parts of playing catch with canines, namely slobber.

Available in various sizes and now made by a slew of imitators, there’s a good chance that this gift will land well with the dog owner in your life. The results with cats have been mixed, however.

Hair Roller

Pet hair is the bane of (nearly) all cat and dog owners’ existence—that constant companion on clothes, car seats, and (inexplicably) electronic devices. Unless the pet owner you are hoping to make happy this holiday season is the owner of the rare hairless cat or dog, there is a high likelihood they, too, are engaged in a daily struggle with their companion’s sheddings.

Hair rollers are the quickest and low-stress way of getting pet hair off most surfaces and are compact enough to carry in a car, purse, or backpack. Hair rollers come in all price categories: go with the electronic Fur Daddy if you’re feeling fancy or buy a whole dozen of the cheaper kind from IKEA. Either way, they’ll be gratefully accepted.

Bowls

Yes, the pet owner in your life will have one or several bowls for food and water already, but this is a great opportunity for an upgrade gift. There’s a good chance that whatever they are currently using is worn out, cracked, or slowly dissolving under the strains of dog saliva.

Either way, the possibilities for bowl ideas are endless and offer quite a bit of personalization. If you’re looking for something for that outdoorsy dog person in your life, they may enjoy the portability and use-anywhere benefits of a bowl from Ruffwear. Dealing with one of those glamorous cat people? Chewy offers luxurious and customizable pet bowls in different sizes.

Tech Gift Ideas for Cats, Dogs, and Their Owners

Laser Toys

If you’ve ever played with a laser pointer in front of a cat, you know that there is a very special bond between these cheap electronics and the feline lifeform.

Systems like Friends Forever automate this process and allow cat owners to entertain their pets for hours without having to wave a laser pointer around for hours. The variety of these kinds of toys is endless.

GPS Tracking Collars

Dog collars that are fitted with GPS transmitters have long been a staple in the worlds of hunting and wildlife management. The systems used to track the movements of Siberian tigers in the wild are not much different from those commercially available today.

GPS tracking collars are increasingly finding their way into the consumer market for the different applications they offer dog owners. Through satellite tracking and increasingly sophisticated apps, these collars don’t just track the movement and location of a pet but can count steps and, in some cases, even monitor some basic vital signals.

Garmin is one of the best-known producers of tracking collars and related equipment today.

Cat Exercise Wheels

These machines carry the added benefit of being an incredible conversation piece for the lucky recipient. Reminiscent of very large hamster wheels, these machines are a great gift for cat owners dealing with a lively breed (e.g., Bengal) in a limited space.

Especially young cats with a lot of energy can really benefit from the opportunity to run around as much as possible, and these machines offer exactly that without compromising carpets, nerves, or rental deposits. One Fast Cat is the name of the best-known producer of this nifty product.

Non-traditional Gift Suggestions for the Pet Owner that Has Everything

Some cat and dog owners will simply be past the point of traditional giftability. They will already have the bowl, the toy, the exercise tool, and the training app—and the gift-giver will find themselves in a particularly difficult position. Here are a few gift ideas for that most complicated category of pet owner.

Pet Insurance

Insuring pets can save a literal fortune in accumulated costs over their lifetimes. Even today, not all pet owners know that this service exists, even though it can be a lifesaver for furry friends of all ages and sizes.

Gifting a pet insurance plan may not be the most sentimental gesture there is at first, but it can be the gift that keeps on giving for the cat or dog lover in your life. The business publication Forbes maintains a list of the best pet insurance providers.

Pet Food Subscription

Lugging pet food around is one of the least-beloved activities of many people that have feline or canine companions that they provide for, and a subscription can take a big part of that hassle away.

Services such as PetPlate and The Farmer’s Dog not only offer regular doorstep delivery of the food of your choice but even allow pet owners to customize their delivery to the particular needs of their animal. From young puppies to older cats with dietary restrictions, these subscription services can often offer a healthier meal at a lower price than buying at the store, with the added benefit of not having to carry those big bags anymore.

Gift Certificates

Let’s face it: sometimes the best gift is the one that people give themselves. A gift certificate to a small business or another pet-specific store can be a great solution if the person being gifted is someone new or a bit mysterious. Gift certificates can also be a better solution for pet owners that are on the go, and would only be burdened by more stuff to carry around.

Johannes Stitz (Writer)

Johannes Stitz is a freelance writer and researcher based in the Southwest. He’s written about various topics in medical technology careers. Before turning to freelance writing, he spent nearly a decade in the arts as a booker and event manager.