Our furry friends are such an important part of our families. I’m sharing my favourite gift ideas for furry friends and their families – including decorative and practical items, as well as interactive toys.
Our Furry Friends Are Family
We currently have one dog, a Welsh terrier named Oliver. But a few years ago, when Oliver was a puppy, we adopted a senior Airedale, Millie, from the Humane Society. Sadly, she developed aggressive cancer and passed away after less than two years with us.
You can read more about Oliver and Millie and see more photos in my post about Decorating with Vintage Toy Terriers.
Both Millie, for the all-too-short time we had her, and Oliver are incredibly special to our family. They have/had so much personality, and they are/were so loved and spoiled.
When it comes to the holidays, the dogs get to participate too. They have stockings (now I keep Millie’s tucked away for sentimental purposes), and get a gift under the tree as well. And I love to put up ornaments or other decorations that are special reminders of how important they are to our family.
Gift Ideas For Furry Friends
Because our furry friends bring so much joy to our lives, I think it’s only fair that we bring a little joy to their lives. And so I’m sharing a gift guide of gift ideas for furry friends. Below you’ll find inspiration for decorative items and ornaments to celebrate your furry friends’ place in your family. As well, I’m sharing my favourite practical items that I use daily with Oliver, and a selection of playful and interactive toys – some of which you can make yourself!
Most of the items on the list are suitable for dogs, since that’s what I know, but I have curated some favourites for cats as well, which I’ll also share.
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Decorative Ornaments and Mementos
I decorate our Christmas tree with many handmade ornaments, made by myself or other people. It also features collected memories, such as ornaments we’ve picked up on trips. Every year, decorating the tree is a huge rush of nostalgia as I unpack and hang such special ornaments. Choosing ornaments to represent Oliver and Millie was important while we had them both. And now that Millie is gone, her ornaments are that much more special.
Ceramic Dog Ornaments – Mary D Tiles
The first set of ornaments we chose were made by a seller I found on Etsy, Mary Dixon of Mary D Tiles. Mary makes the most fantastic ceramic dog ornaments, in any breed, and all in a wonderfully charming style. I ordered two custom ornaments and Mary customized them to Millie and Oliver’s particular colouring.
The texture on their legs is simply phenomenal! And I love the leaping/running pose, as Millie and Oliver were literally always chasing each other around the apartment.
Most of Mary’s dogs come as tiles which you can incorporate into a mosaic or stepping stone – perhaps as a memorial. Or they come with a pin on the back for a brooch. But you can have it made as an ornament as well.
Mary encourages sending personalized photos of your dog and will make any dog breed. Her work is phenomenal, and if you are looking for a personalized tribute to your dog, you should check out her shop! Even if you have to wait a while for the ornaments, it’s worth it.
Custom Paw Print Ornaments
On the first Christmas that we had Millie with us, a local pet shop partnered with the next door pottery shop to offer custom paw print ornaments. We took the dogs in and had their paws printed with pet-friendly paint. Afterward, they glazed and fired the ornaments for us.
I do wish that Millie’s ornament was the same size as Oliver’s as there’s so much white space and it’s ridiculously large and heavy for the tree. But I adore that we have these ornaments as it’s the only paw print we have from Millie.
On searching, I found a seller from Etsy who will take a paw print image that you send and turn it into a custom ornament. How great is that!? The shop is called Pixie and Pine Designs and they print their ornaments on acrylic. They can also do a custom nose print ornament.
Custom Pipe Cleaner Dogs
I chose another custom piece of art after Millie was gone – a pair of exquisite miniature terriers crafted out of pipe cleaners. Yumiko of Maruton on Etsy creates these wonders, though sadly she hasn’t had items for sale in her shop in a long while.
I am continuously in awe of these little pieces every time I take them out at Christmas. Each year, I try to set them up in a different little winter scene. This year I made them a gingerbread vignette, which you can check out in this post.
My mind is just blown at the itty bitty details, especially the little tongues, teeth, and lips in their big, goofy grins. I don’t know how Yumiko created them! I treasure this little pair so much as they are delightful and perfectly embody the spirit of Millie and Oliver.
Other Ornament Gift Ideas for Furry Friends, Including Cats
There are so many options out there for personalized ornaments and keepsakes, including some you can make yourself. To get started, I’ve saved lots of favourites under an Etsy Favourites list called Furry Friends, including ones for cats as well. Check it out and see which one catches your eye – and tugs at your heartstrings!
Practical Gift Ideas For Furry Friends
Practical gifts might be a boring choice as a gift idea for furry friends. But taking good care of our furry friends is another important way to show our love.
I’m sharing two of my practical favourites that I use daily with Oliver.
Noxgear Lighthound Harness
Every night when we walk in the evening, it’s so dark. Poorly lit areas, nights with no moon, and areas with no sidewalks make our walks hazardous at times. There are lots of little button lights that clip onto leashes and collars, but they don’t do that much to make us visible to vehicles.
That’s why I was so excited to find the Noxgear Lighthound harness, after I saw several other dogs in the neighbourhood stylishly wearing theirs. The Lighthound harness is easy to put on over the head and it clips under the dog’s rib cage. They’re adjustable, as well as available in a range of sizes.
There are LED light strips and reflective tape that extend around the body, making the dog visible from all directions and from a distance. You can select from several solid light colours with the press of a button, or have the colours change at a range of speeds. As well, the harness charges with a USB cord, and it is weatherproof and washable if you remove the lights.
It’s difficult to take photos of a glowing light at night, and Oliver wasn’t impressed to have his walk on pause. But we get comments and interest from other dog owners wherever we go, and I feel much safer knowing we are much more visible in the dark with our Noxgear Lighthound harness. (Noxgear also makes a light-up harness for people too!)
MudBuster Paw Washer
We have had such a huge amount of rain this year, and it seems like it’s always muddy! Oliver loves mud, often tromping through the garden, muddy forest paths, or doing muddy zoomies. But he doesn’t like the necessary paw cleanings that come afterward. I wish we had a built-in dog-washing station, but we don’t and have to make do with wet towels.
However, the MudBuster paw washer has changed all of that. Simply fill the paw washer with some lukewarm water, insert a paw and spin the paw washer back and forth and move it up and down. The silicone bristles inside gently remove any mud and debris. Then you can easily dry off a clean paw. Repeat with the rest of your furry friend’s paws.
The lid unscrews from the paw washer and the silicone insert opens up for easy cleaning. Best of all, all the parts are dishwasher safe. The MudBuster paw washer comes in different sizes and colours. Oliver uses the smallest size.
Oliver wasn’t a huge fan at first, and we took a few sessions with treats as rewards for each paw washed. Now however, I think it appreciates how gentle the paw washer is over trying to rub the mud out from between his paw pads with a towel.
Every time I dump out the dark water after cleaning Oliver’s paws, I’m grateful for how simple it is to use, and how effective it is at cleaning his paws. I still wish there was less mud, but now I’m equipped to deal with it. The MudBuster paw washer is worth every penny and I wish we’d had one a lot sooner!
Toys or Interactive Puzzles
My dog Oliver is very clever, determined, and food motivated. We own a lot of different puzzles (such as the Nina Ottosson puzzles), and treat dispensing toys such as the Kong Wobbler, and an orange treat ball. All are favourites of his.
Recently, we’ve looked for more variety to give him at random times to keep him interested. And Oliver gets very excited whenever I take out a special treat toy after his evening walk. Lots of these new toys involve the dog using their nose, so they’re often called nosework toys. These toys are so enriching and mentally stimulating and I’m sure most dogs would love them as much as Oliver does.
Oliver is a very gentle chewer now that he’s an old man of 9 years old. But we also always put these toys away as soon as he has found all of the treats until the next time we spontaneously bring them out. That way they last a long time.
Remember: All toys, puzzles, etc. should always be supervised by you!
A popular interactive nosework toy is a snuffle mat, where the dog has to search for hidden treats between fleece strips. I bought my snuffle mat at the market at an agility trial where I was supporting a friend. (Emma and her dog Miles of www.milesandemma.com – both talented agility stars and Emma’s an amazing dog trainer).
However, it’s easy to DIY your own snuffle mat with fleece strips tied around a rubber mat and you can search for tutorials. Oliver loves it when I hide kibble or treats in the snuffle mat instead of using a regular bowl for his meals. When it seems like he’s done, I just shake it out to make sure any remaining treats fall out. You can also put most snuffle mats in the wash.
If you don’t want to bother DIYing one yourself, there are many available on Etsy in every colour and shape imaginable. I’ve saved some in my Etsy Favourites list, Furry Friends, or you can search for Snuffle Mat.
Nosework Activity Mat
Another kind of snuffle mat is one that has interactive flaps, pockets etc. After seeing some a few years ago, I was inspired to make my own. I chose three colours of thin fleece (hopefully Oliver can see the yellow and blue) and cut out various shapes. Then I just sewed them down with matching thread. The bonus of fleece is that you don’t need to finish the edges, and you can wash the whole mat.
When it’s time to use it, I ask Oliver to sit and wait and he excitedly watches me distribute kibble and treats into most of the pockets and under most flaps. He waits anxiously to be released and then spends 10-15 minutes nosing around and munching away. I keep an eye on him and occasionally straighten the mat back out again.
When Oliver’s done, I go through and check for any treats he missed and let him find them. Then I let the mat air dry before putting it away as it’s usually a little slobbery. Every few times, I throw it in the wash. Oliver gets very excited when the treat mat comes out.
You can make your own version of this interactive activity mat, or you can buy a version that’s handmade. There is a very wide variety of shapes and sizes with different features on Etsy. Again I’ve saved some of my favourites in the Furry Friends list.
Other Nosework Toys
There are also lots of other kinds of Nosework toys that can hide treats. I was so excited when I found the two toys below and promptly ordered them for Christmas for Oliver. Christmas cannot come soon enough because I’m so impatient to see if he likes them.
The Ramen Cup is soft with an opening at the top. Inside is a big mass of knotted shoelaces which you can remove. Little pockets are attached to the “noodles”. You can hide treats inside the little pockets, among the laces and inside the cup. And the whole thing is washable.
The entire large potato chip bag is crinkly, which Oliver loves. Dogs can pull out 5 different potato chips from inside. Some of the chips crinkle as well, and some have squeakers inside. A triangle shaped chip has a treat pocket on the back. And one has a roll-out section with multiple treat pockets. I’m really excited to see Oliver exploring this toy.
Other Playful Gift Ideas for Furry Friends, Including Cats
I’ve selected some other favourite toys, including for cats, again saved in my Etsy Furry Friends list.
As well, check out the Wags Up store for inspiration. I have found they had a really wonderful selection of toys that I have not seen elsewhere, especially other nosework toys.
I’m sure your furry friends will be delighted with whatever you choose, and happy to receive some extra cuddles and attention!
Gift Ideas for Furry Friends
Our furry friends bring us so much joy. I hope some of these ideas might bring your furry friends joy as well!
I want to hear from you! Do you give your furry friends gifts at Christmas or for other occasions? What kinds of toys or treats do they enjoy? What’s one pet product that you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,