BUYING a present for your pet this holiday season? Survey says: Yes. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 64 percent of pet owners buy gifts for Buster and Snowball at Christmas and other seasonal celebrations. The favorite presents for pets are toys - to the tune of $389 million last year - and clothing.
We have some suggestions that your cats, dogs and pet-loving friends and family will roll over for.
* You probably know the adage that a tired dog is a good dog. Keep your pooch pooped with a dog-treat launcher. Load it with small treats (not included) that will travel 10 to 12 feet when you "fire" it, giving him a fun and tasty workout. Works with cats, too. Available at Amazon.com and ContainerStore.com.
* Dogs love to shake, lick and cuddle with the Duckworth plush squeaky toy. While reviewers give it high marks for durability, it's not for power chewers. Available on Amazon.com and other online retailers.
* Got a catnip junkie? Feed his habit with Yeowww's Pollock Fish Catnip Toy. Stuffed with organically grown catnip and made in the United States, the fish-shaped toy is made for a cat to clutch to his belly and bunnykick. Sold through Amazon.com and other online retailers.
* Are you getting a new puppy during the holidays? Consider getting him a Snuggle Puppy with a pulsing "heartbeat" and a warming pack to help him relax in his new home. There's a Snuggle Kittie for kittens, too. Sold at Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and other online retailers.
Books are available on every topic of interest to pet lovers, and if they don't like to read (inconceivable!), well, that's why they publish photography books. My favorites this year:
* Pete Thorne's photographs and stories of 75 senior dogs capture the life, joy and special beauty of a graying muzzle in "Old Faithful: Dogs of a Certain Age."
* Mystery fans will cozy up to Laurien Berenson's latest, "The Bark Before Christmas," featuring amateur sleuth Melanie Travis dogging the footsteps of a pup-napping Santa slayer.
* You throw away 15 (or more) catnip toys until you find the one your cat likes best and set aside a credit card specifically for your cat's use (no limit, natch!); and when your cat brings you a dead mouse in the middle of the night, you say "Good kitty" and take a photo of her trophy for her Facebook page. If you answer yes to these statements, you can reinforce your fancy for felines - and find new ways to spoil your cat - in Allia Zobel Nolan's comical (and possibly true-to-life) "Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much," illustrated by Nicole Hollander. The pair will make you giggle and, maybe, squirm a bit when you recognize yourself in the book's pages.
It's the season of giving, but gifts don't have to be material. Show your love for animals with a donation of goods or money to your local shelter, a favorite rescue group or other pet welfare organization. Among the ones we like are World Vets, Winn Feline Foundation, The Grey Muzzle Organization and Alley Cat Allies.
Before you order anything online, for pets or people, see if the merchant sells through adoptashelter.com. Every purchase you make through the portal earns a donation for the shelter of your choice, and there's no need to register, log in or remember a password.
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker.