International studies reveal that up to 95% of pet owners in the UK are buying Christmas presents for their pets, while more Americans will buy gifts for their pets than their in-laws this festive season. The spend in Asia and Emirates equates to an economy of its own, with pet owners humanising animals with branded pet goodies by the likes of Louis Vuitton, Nike and Versace, amongst others. Absolute Pets Marketing Manager Genevieve Adams said in South Africa, retailers say they’ve noticed a similar increase in consumers wanting to spoil their furry friends.
“In keeping with the pet humanisation trend we’ve seen over the past few years, more people are including their pets in special occasions, holidays and family celebrations. Birthday pawties are becoming more common, and picking out a perfect gift for a pet for Christmas or other special occasion is important to many of our customers,” she added.
So what are the rules when it comes to pampering your pet this holiday and summer season? When choosing gifts, toys and treats, make sure nothing poses a choking hazard or utilises anything that can be harmful to your animal. Chocolate, raisins and mince pies are off limits. And if you’re buying a cute Christmas outfit or anything to be worn, make sure the fabric is light and soft and the garment is the right size so your pet remains comfortable. For the travelling family that has to unfortunately leave the furry child behind, Vivenne Burett (a 30-year+ dog lover), from Paws-Resort in Midrand, JHB, suggests pet holidays and shelters with the necessary facilities to keep the furry members of your family safe. They often don’t mind breaks from their two-legged friends. If they could, they would say “stop the anguish”. They get to enjoy play school, spend time with new neighbours and socialise.
Johan Marais, who has been dealing with reptiles for over 45 years, says the right snake could be an excellent pet and now could be a good time to consider a bigger enclosure or heated pad for your slithery child as an Xmas gift. He says to remember to feed it appropriately before departing on your holiday and to have contingencies in place. Microchipping and spaying still sit high up on the list of gifts for pets globally and can start from as little as R100. Tracker tags that transmit to cellphone apps prove to be a must if you want to keep an eye on your four-legged friends, but lets all just be honest, there’s little more your pet wants than quality time alone with you and lots of love. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate gift, why not explore one of South Africa’s many pet-friendly holiday destinations and make memories to treasure forever.
For those without pets, according to Jaque Le Roux, an animal nurse in Cape Town, this is an opportunity to visit a shelter for surrendered pets, the SPCA, animal welfare organisations or even your local zoo where you can adopt a pet financially and feel like a pet parent. Donating a bag of food, toy or blanket, or even just spending time with the animals, makes a huge difference. (Most organisations have a digital presence on the socials that can help with this process.) Remember, if you are going to gift a pet as a present this Christmas, you need to be willing to give it a gift the next. Please also make extended efforts to ensure the safety of your pets and animals from fireworks during your festive celebrations this year.