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Christmas Gift Ideas for Pet/Wildlife Lovers

Updated on December 2, 2015
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Suggestions For All Gift Giving Occasions

Mom and Dad have everything they need, so do Grammy and Grampy.

You don’t know what to give the kids’ teachers, and the Yankee Swap at the office Christmas Party will feature more than enough food gifts, and “as seen on TV” items.

Buying for those “difficult to buy for” folks is as easy as 1-2-3. 1) Do they own a pet...2) do they feed wild birds... 3) do they love animals?

If the answer is "Yes" to any of those, there's a slew of things you can get, and they need not be expensive.

For a pet owner, a gift that acknowledges their pet(s) is one that really is appreciated, and in many cases, even more than a gift for themselves.

There are a number of gift cards you can get...at the pet supply store, the groomer, the vet, boarding kennels, day care, pet sitters, and trainers, to name a few.

Some routine things get overlooked, such as food and water bowls, litter boxes and pet beds that have seen better days.

Or maybe they're tired of buying squeak toys, but you know their dog just loves them.

A pet "care package" can be just the thing, and it shows a lot of thought, too.

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If the recipient likes to feed wild birds, they're among the easiest to buy for.

There are bird seeds, feeders, or accessories such as poles, squirrel baffles, warning webs (if they have a problem with birds crashing into windows), or seed containers and scoops.

One can buy a variety of individual ingredients so the recipient can custom-blend their own seed mix.

Some folks like to feed those ingredients (such as sunflower hearts, peanut hearts, thistle seeds or safflower seeds) exclusively in some of their feeders.

You can select seeds that are favored by the recipient’s favorite species’ of birds, too. Store personnel will be able to help you identify which seeds are preferred by which birds.

And you’ll find more varieties of suet cakes, balls and blends (and their dispensers) than there are yogurt choices in the supermarket! And suet is a particularly valuable cold weather food.

All you'd need to do is spend a few minutes with a knowledgeable clerk at a feed and grain store, wild bird specialty boutique, or a nursery or garden shop.

And if you can't decide on something, get a gift card. It's always the right size and the right color, and the recipient will have a ball browsing through his favorite store with a fistfull of "fun money."

Who doesn't truly appreciate the opportunity to select the items that he's been meaning to get, or that he's always wanted to get but just never seemed to have the money available.

And they'll think of you every time they fill that feeder or watch the birds enjoying the option that you made possible.

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A practice that's got some controversy to it, but that’s very popular nonetheless, is feeding deer and wild turkeys which come into the yard.

For those folks there are wildlife food blends, scratch feed, corn, and salt licks.

You can buy 50 pound bags of food for deer, or simply buy food for horses or cows. The deer will readily accept that as well.

You can choose from pelleted feed and sweet feed. The sweet feed is sprayed with molasses to make it more palatable, but it also makes it sticky to handle and it hardens in the cold weather.

The salt licks come in a variety, too (in 4 lb. to 50 lb. blocks) . You can get plain salt, or opt for a blend of salt and trace minerals, or a salt, trace minerals, corn, and apple flavoring mix.

You'll notice that other woodland creatures will also visit the salt block to fulfill their requirements for salt and trace minerals.

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Local Groups Will Appreciate the Support

For people who love animals in general, might I suggest gift-subscriptions to animal related publications, or donations or gift-memberships to local zoos, aquariums, and conservation organizations?

All do a terrific job of providing opportunities to learn about animals, and, in some cases, to get up close and personal with them.

And they'd benefit greatly since they don't get tax dollars. Most rely on memberships, gift shop sales, and donations to fund their education and conservation efforts.

Also keep in mind your local shelters. Donations will help volunteers care for the community's abandoned and surrendered pets until new homes can be found for them.

Just as a beloved pet does, these animals require good nutrition, health care and recreation, none of which are free anymore.

The same goes for rescue groups, of which there are gazillions. Most domesticated animals have rescue groups and sanctuaries dedicated to their care and relocation, and within species, there are even breed specific organizations.

You can donate to a chihuahua rescue group, an appaloosa horse rescue group, or a mini lop rabbit rescue group, to name a few.

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Walk Right on By That Doggy in the Window

And no column on pet related gifts would be complete without this caveat: don't give a pet as a surprise gift.

There are a number of reasons for this.

The first is that it may not be welcome in the home. While the kids would love a pet, it's the parents who end up paying for its maintenance and, in fact, providing its maintenance.

Once the novelty wears off, the kids are on to new adventures. And the adults may not want that burden.

Other considerations are that some family members may have allergies, the home may be in a setting where pets are not allowed, or the family's life style and other dynamics may not be conducive to pet ownership.


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Can you imagine the devastating disappointment of the child who receives a puppy as a gift but isn't allowed to keep it for whatever reason?

If you're authorized by the decision makers in the household to give a pet, you might consider shopping first at your local shelter or rescue group chapter.

Workers and volunteers will provide the screening necessary to maximize chances for a good match, and you'll make the kindest gesture possible to a homeless animal.

If you’re really in a quandary about what to get, here’s an easy solution: in the owner's or the pet's name, you can make a donation to the recipient's local animal shelter or favorite rescue group.


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    • Bob Bamberg profile image
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      Bob Bamberg 15 months ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hi, ladyguitarpicker, nice to see you again. Thanks for validating some key points I wanted to make. Even in urban and suburban shelters there are too many gift animals that get relinquished. Those who think surprise gift animals are a good idea are truly misguided. While they make exciting gifts for youngsters, and even some adults, there should be pre- approval by a responsible spokesperson. Thanks for stopping by.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 15 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      A good hub and one that is close to my heart. I know how grateful our shelter is at Christmas, when we get donations for all the dogs that are picked up. This is a rural area and many dogs do run loose during this time of the year. After Christmas then there are many Christmas animals that end up in the shelter. You are also right, never buy a puppy for a present without asking first.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image
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      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Good points all, Patty, thanks for bringing them up. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Southeastern Massachusetts to the Midwest!

    • Pages-By-Patty profile image

      Pages-By-Patty 4 years ago from Midwest

      Another great hub, Bob! And especially needed this time of year. Unfortunately, shelters have record adoptions for December and an equally high number of returns in January. PETS ARE NOT PRESENTS! There are shelters that offer foster programs for the holidays...so a pet gets to experience a home life without the commitment to adopt for the family. Win-Win situation, if you ask me!

      "Wish Lists" can be found on most rescue/shelter websites and there are quite a few inexpensive items.

      Donations to 501(c) organizations are tax deductible. Sweaters, cameras and necklaces do not help save lives while lowering your tax burden....but donations do! :)

      Happy Holidays!