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Top pet gifts, toys and treats
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Of course, pets needn't wander lost for something bad to happen to them. Make your pet more easily seen at night with battery-powered glow-in-the-dark collars and leashes, such as the ones offered by Atomic Pet. Their leashes and collars retail for $24.95 and $19.95, respectively.

More fur and feathers
For birds and ferrets, good gifts would be food toys -- active toys they have to take apart and play with to get at the treat inside, says Eldredge. The line of Kong products offers such toys for birds and ferrets. The Bird Kong with Fun Clips sells for $5 to $7 at Pet Solutions, while the Ferret Kong retails for $5 at PetCareRx.

Rabbits like toys they can shake, says Eldredge. Buy a rattle for as little as $3 at Funny Bunny Toy Company.

Kong time

It's ruff being alone
Some poor pooches and kitties sit alone all day while their owners work at the office. Why not give them something to chew or to keep a cat's eye on? Eldredge says that some of the best toys involve putting tasty treats into the toy that the animal then has to play with to get at the treat. She cited the Kong toys and the Busy Buddy as examples of such toys.

The latest Kong, called KongTime, releases one of four treat-filled Kongs randomly throughout the day. KongTime retails for $90 to $100 at Pet Solutions, depending on what size Kongs you select to put inside. The Busy Buddy Twist n' Treat chew toy sells for $8 to $16 at Busy Buddy Toys.

Vetere also cited two light-up toys: the Talk to Me Laser Treatball, which records a 15-second message, lights up and releases treats at random, and the PetQwerk Blinky Ball, which lights up for 3 seconds when touched. The Treatball retails for $17 to $22 at PETCO, while the PetQwerk Blinky Ball sells for $9 at the Puppy Shop.

For the cat or bird who watches TV, Vetere suggests buying a special DVD, such as "The Birdy Show," which features a 25-minute video of birds, mice and hamsters: $7 at

Of course, toys left with pets should be durable, so let the pets test them out while supervising, says Rasmusen.

Literal shoestring budget
"One of the best toys is something that's interactive," says Eldredge. "That can be as cheap as a ball for a dog or a piece of string for a cat." (Be careful to supervise Allie the cat when she's playing to make sure she doesn't swallow the string!)

Like pet, like owner
When it comes to cute toys, quality should outrank quantity, says Rasmusen. "Dogs would be happy with one really well-made toy and sweater."

Not only do quality gifts make pets happy -- they make their pet owners smile. Asked if pet lovers appreciate gifts for their pets as much as they enjoy human gifts, the experts and vendors we spoke with said absolutely -- if they're not enjoyed more.

"True pet lovers derive a lot of benefits from their pet," says Vetere. "People feel good giving their pets gifts they value, instead of old bones or ratty tennis balls."

As for the pet's appreciation, Haas says, "Every dog loves a new toy."'s corrections policy -- Updated: July 7, 2006
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