Is your pet in vogue for the holidays?

Pets are traveling to Grandma’s house for Christmas in first class, stylish Sherpa bags. You don’t have to be a celebrity to be pet trendy this holiday season. Petland offers designer doggie strollers, carrying totes and car seats as well as important safety advice on holiday-related dangers for pets.

“Celebrities like Paris Hilton and her chihuahua, Tinkerbell, have influenced Americans this year. People are splurging on their pets, keeping them in fashion and caring for them as if they were babies,” said Dean Johnson, operator of Petland at the North CherryVale Mall Drive Shopping Center in Rockford.

Stylish, safe pet carriers

One of the most popular pet trends is the purchasing of designer doggie strollers, carrying totes and car seats. Most Petland stores carry soft-sided, airline-approved, travel bags by Sherpa’s Pet Trading Company or other designer brand pet totes that come in a variety of trendy looks including pink and blue plaids as well as solid colors.

Pets dressing for the occasion

Before leaving home, more and more pet owners are dressing Max and Sadie for the occasion or for muzzle-nipping weather.

Petland offers clothing for pets including sweaters and coats available in different materials such as fleece and terry cloth. Boots, two pairs per pet of course, are popular as well. Petland even has jewelry for pets making their debut at the annual Christmas or New Year’s party. If your pooch is more of a homebody, there is plenty of pampering to be done there, too.

In addition to designer beds, Petland also has a line of designer pet dishes and treat containers from Pet Rageous that have a matching coffee mug for the owner.

Birds with pagoda-style housing?

Feathered friends may also be looking for a little pampering at holiday time and could move up into the latest bird cages that look like pagodas and houses.

Cats like upscale nutritional treats, and a few of Petland’s favorites include Gourmet Kitty by Nutro Products and Kitty Garden, which includes four different edible kitty grasses.

Gift cards for the finicky

“Pet gifts are a great idea to bring a different kind of excitement to the holiday. These gifts aren’t just great to give to your pet, but also great to give to the passionate pet owner in your family,” Johnson said, adding that gift cards also are available at Petland for those who want to leave the fun of choosing to the pet owner.

Giving a pet as a Christmas gift is an innovative and wonderful idea, but pet counselors at Petland say you must plan ahead if you intend to give someone a pet over the holidays. A pet shouldn’t be a surprise gift for anyone.

Plan ahead: Never surprise people with pets

“Christmas Day is not the best time to introduce a new pet into the family. At Petland, we recommend introducing a new pet into the household a little before or after Christmas,” Johnson said. “Young pets are like babies, and they need some time and extra attention to adjust to the family routine.”

Pets brought into the home before the holiday have time to adjust to housebreaking, exercising and feeding routines. During the holidays, Petland suggests pets be kept occupied with pet-safe toys, well-rested in a pet-safe crate and out of the holiday traffic.

Holiday care tips for pets

Here are a few other tips from Petland to make the transition easier for families and their pets over the holidays:

Refrain from feeding your pet holiday table scraps. Your pet’s digestive system is not receptive to rich “people foods.”

When not crated, check your pet often, making sure it is not endangering itself by chewing on Christmas paraphernalia —bulbs, lights and wires—that may be harmful.

Keep pets from coming in contact with holiday plants—mistletoe, holly and poinsettia. These traditional holiday plants can cause illness. Ingestion of these plants can be toxic to some animals. On contact with these plants, some pets may develop an irritating rash.

Get acquainted with a veterinarian in your community and find out about emergency treatment procedures. Make sure someone is on call if needed.

From the Dec. 14-20, 2005, issue

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