You love your dog. And you love to see Piper or Jax excited over a new toy or treat. It’s time to gear up for a great time.
Spending on toys for pets and other accessories reached $3.6 billion last year, the Wall Street Journal reported in May.
Not sure what to buy your favorite furball? We asked some local experts for their suggestions.
“Always we see people going for the treats, low-fat for their dogs and natural, as well as specialty items like breath mints,” says Barbara Burg, who has been baking healthy dog treats for 20 years and is co-owner of Canine Café in South End. Her 13-year-old, rescue Australian shepherd Bella is a shop dog and models sweaters and collars.
Burg, who owns Canine Café (125 Remount Road, Unit A) with Meredith Thompson, has her own line of baked, healthy treats for dogs. Her bakery is on-site and treats are available there and at area grocery stores.
Nicole Odom, owner of Dogtopia of Charlotte on Springbrook Road, loves toys that are fun and durable.
“We love toys by West Paw, in particular we really love their Tux and Tizzi toys. We actually use them in our play room with our day care and boarding dogs,” Odom says. She lives in Steele Creek with 8 1/2-year-old golden retriever Penny and 8-year-old Jack, a Rottweiler and pit mix.
Tux (usually less than $20) is a durable treat toy. Odom suggests putting peanut butter in it, especially if you have to lure a dog into a crate.
— West Paw (@westpawUS) September 17, 2015
The Tizzi (about $15 for the small size and $20 for the large) has a secret treat compartment, handles that lock for tug-of-war and unlock to be thrown for fetch.
Tug toys are very popular, Burg says, because tugs require interaction between owner and pet.
And a fetching toy is always fun; it also gets you outside playing with your furr-kid.
Burg also recommends goDog brand soft plush toys, which have a lining that prevents a dog from dragging his teeth through the toy and destroy it.
Antlers are fun
“The other thing we love are elk antlers,” Odom says. Antlers — for chewing, not wearing and taking embarrassing pictures — are available at most places that sell dog items, including at Harris Teeter and Petco and PetSmart. Antlers are priced by size, ranging from about $10 to $20.
“So many people get their dogs rawhides and they’re not good for dogs,” Odom says. “They can’t digest them. Elk antlers are a great alternative,”
The chewing keeps a dog’s teeth clean and antlers can last up to a year, usually 8 months.
For fun, Burg suggests a Bowser Beer such as Cock-a-Doodle, a nonalchoholic, noncarbonated beer with malt barley for shiny coats and glucosamine for joint health.
'Designated Walker' party pack. No worries, 'cause Fido will walk you home. Cheers! pic.twitter.com/XhVVfKc8mv
— Bowser Beer (@bowserbeer) December 11, 2014
“A lot of dogs like it when frozen as ice cubes, others like it straight up or on the rocks,” Burg says. “With a pizza treat, you have a party with this holiday beefy brown ale.”
– For the human who has everything, consider buying a DNA testing kit, available for dogs and cats. Expect to pay about $80 for the kit. You’ll take cheek swabs and send the saliva-laden sticks to the lab for testing. The breed analysis on my Harper was a surprise.
(Her grandparents were a pair of collies, some mixed breeds, a Rottweiler and a Siberian husky.)
– Consider fostering a dog or cat. You’ll be entertained, loved and can be proud of your good deed. Check out the Humane Society of Charlotte, Concord or Iredell for fostering and other volunteer opportunities.
– Make a donation to an animal shelter or rescue. Most of them list needed supplies on their websites.
Photos: Tracy Yochum; Courtesy of Meredith Thompson; Courtesy of Nicole Odom