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Top pet gifts, toys and treats

Fido's got a brand new bag. And a pair of hiking boots. And a cashmere sweater. And his very own GPS tracker. And, a glow-in-the-dark collar! Do these gifts sound ideal for your treasured pet?

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They do for many pet owners. Nearly 6 million American dog and cat households throw pet birthday parties according to the 2005-2006 American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's pet owners survey. Not only are our furry and feathered friends feted with cakes and treats but, more and more, pets are the recipients of both lavish and practical gifts for all occasions. The items pet owners are buying for their family pets might surprise you.

Some pet parents are purchasing luxurious gifts so that their pets can live a lifestyle similar to their own. That means treating them to organic food, rides in stylish designer bags and selecting only the softest clothes and flashiest accessories for them to wear.

Bruce Haas, co-owner of Chicago pet store, Tails in the City, says this trend of showering your pet with a lifestyle like you're accustomed to is growing, noting the rise of status toys and accessories such as Chewy Vuitton toy purses, Jimmy Chew shoe toys and Sniffany & Co. beds.

Veterinarian and author Debra Eldredge confirms the luxury trend. "People are very into making their dogs comfortable, and if they can make them fashionable, that's even better."

Fetch a present
If you're of the mind to fetch a fashionable present for a special canine or kitty, chew on our list of haute pet trends.
Hot pet trends
1. Posh pooches
2. Toting Toto
3. Manic about organic
4. When Lassie gets lost
5. More fur and feathers
6. It's ruff being alone

Posh pooches
"People treat their pets as part of the family," says Andrew Shure, founder of Shure Pets, a direct seller of pet products. That means you can forget letting them shiver in the winter. At least not while cashmere sweaters, hoodies, snow boots and scarves can shield them against harsh weather conditions.

You can also forget letting them sleep on carpet, grass and concrete. These days, pet pillows, throws and beds of every size, style and color cushion pets while they rest.

"Designer clothes and beds are very hot," Eldredge says.

While seasonal pet wear can be found in nearly every pet store both online and offline, we priced polo shirts at $34 at Vavadog.com, black hoodies for $40 at Tails in the City and a convertible parka for $64 at Lucky Dog Pet Boutique.

Don't forget their paws!

"Pet owners are definitely looking for footwear," says Hollus Gessler, owner of Chicago-based pet boutique, Wigglyville. Modern canines will never have to suffer the pain of walking bare-pawed in the rain or snow, over rocks or hot sand or even on slippery hardwood. Pet lovers searching for cute boots that also serve a functional purpose don't even have to walk out into the elements: online pet boutiques keep them in stock. At Tails in the City Lilyboots sell for $70 to $80 while G2s, rubber-soled, doggy sneaks retail for $59 at Hands 'n Paws.

Less practical but still cute, scarves warm furry necks and retail for $21 at Vavadog.

 
 
Next: Comfort follows dogs inside.
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