Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

Gifts Galore!

Whether you’re buying for pets or pet lovers, we’ve found the perfect gifts for anyone on your list -- even the naughty ones

Andrews McMeel Syndication

It’s that time of year again: turkey, football and Black Friday shopping. If you’re reading this, we’re pretty sure that you probably have dogs, cats and people who love pets on your gift-buying list. To make shopping easy for you -- so you can spend more time with your animals -- we’ve come up with a gift guide that has something for everyone.

Treats for good dogs

-- Pet Connection team member and Fear Free lead trainer Mikkel Becker says her dogs love the foraging challenge of the iDig. Bury chews, treats and toys for dogs to find.; $79.99.

-- Shaped like a suitcase, the Travel Dog food puzzle tests dogs’ dexterity, concentration and “scentsability.” Two dogs can play at the same time.; $76.

-- Load ’em up and launch! Ring toys, that is. The Chuckit! Ring Chaser Launcher Dog Toy saves your arm during endless fetch sessions. Bonus: hands-free pickup to prevent getting slimed with slobber. Available from Amazon and Chewy; $12.95.

-- Reward your good dog -- and they are all good dogs -- with a daily treat from Bosco and Roxy’s Bark the Halls Advent Calendar. Each window for the 24 days leading up to Christmas contains a biscuit made with applesauce and crushed peanuts. Available at Cost Plus World Market and online at; $24.99.

Purr-fect for cats

-- The classic, of course, is an empty box, but if you want to go all out for your cat, the IntelliKatt food bowl has three levels of difficulty and more than 500 different combinations, offering your cat a stimulating hunting challenge. Even “mewbies” can have fun with it.; $19.99.

-- Cats who love to climb will be thrilled with the wall-mounted Ultimate Cat Climbing Tower & Activity Tree. Just over 6 feet tall, it has two resting areas where up-high cats can monitor their territory. Amazon and PetFusion; $109.95.

-- If a traditional cat tree isn’t right for your home, consider the Happy Stack, which is easy to set up and can be moved as needed so your cat always has a place to climb, scratch, nap or hide.; $179.

-- Grow grass for your cat to nibble with the Organic Cat Grass Growing Kit. The cute planter with a kitty face comes in black or white. Amazon; $15.97. (Hint: Dogs will like it, too.)

Pet-people pleasers

-- An abundance of fiction and nonfiction featuring animals will have book lovers settling in to enjoy their new read -- dog or cat on lap, of course. Look for “Here Comes Santa Paws” (Kensington Books), the latest in Laurien Berenson’s long-running series featuring standard poodles and their mystery-solving owner, Melanie Travis. “Cat Life” by Amy Shojai looks at cats big and small, cat culture and history, anatomy, behavior and more (Furry Muse Publications). Photography buffs won’t lose focus while admiring the stunning photos in National Geographic photographer Vincent J. Musi’s “The Year of the Dogs” (Chronicle Books). Science-loving kids with cats can experiment -- in a good way! -- guided by “Cat Science Unleashed: Fun Activities To Do With Your Feline Friend” (National Geographic Children’s Books) by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen. There’s also “Dog Science Unleashed.” Pet-loving friends will also enjoy a copy of the latest issue of Happy Paws magazine, with articles on kids and dogs, pet care hacks and the secrets behind canine senses.

-- Make someone smile every morning as they drink coffee or tea in a mug customized with a portrait of their pet. Find artists on Etsy who will take a photo and turn it into a work of art (search “pet portrait mugs” on the site).

-- Cat lovers can settle in to play Cat Crimes on a cold winter day. This feline version of Clue, with six cat tokens, lets players use paw prints, toy placement and other evidence to solve the crime.

Happy shopping!


Which dog for

a couch potato?

Q: I’m not a super-active person, and I want a laid-back dog. Are there certain breeds I should consider?

A: Plenty of dogs will suit your needs -- with some caveats. Any puppy or adolescent dog, no matter what breed, is going to be active and playful. If you choose to get a puppy, be prepared for a higher activity level for one to two years before your dog settles into sedate adulthood. Or consider acquiring an adult dog so you can skip the puppy antics.

Some breeds to consider:

-- Cavalier King Charles spaniel. My writing partner, Kim Campbell Thornton, loves these dogs for good reason. They’re small -- but not too small -- and they’ll adjust their activity level to yours. Be aware that the breed has heart problems.

-- Greyhound. It seems counterintuitive to recommend one of the fastest dogs in the world, but greyhounds are happy with a nice walk around the block or a few minutes of running flat out (in a safely fenced area), then they’ll be a couch potato with you.

-- Keeshond. As an adult, this medium-size spitz breed (weighing 35 to 45 pounds) is typically satisfied with a couple of walks on a leash and some playtime in a yard. He can be a barker, so plan on teaching the “quiet” cue.

-- Lhasa apso. Calm and watchful, this former Tibetan temple dog enjoys one or two brief walks daily or some indoor or outdoor playtime. He’s a nice size at 12 to 18 pounds.

-- Shih Tzu. An in-your-lap kind of dog, the Shih Tzu is a toy breed that will appreciate a short daily walk. He may also get his zoomies out by racing through your house -- but that’s on him, not you.

Both the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa require frequent grooming or a short pet trim. -- Dr. Marty Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to or visit


Pet prep tips for

emergency bug-outs

-- There’s always the possibility of having to evacuate with pets due to fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake or other disasters. Pack a pet go-bag containing vaccination or titer records and other important medical history; medication; food; food and water bowls; a carrier marked with your name and phone number; a photo of your pet -- especially one of you together in case you become separated; a sheet listing medication regimen, food and amount fed and your contact info; a blanket or bed; a favorite toy; and for cats, a litter box, litter and scoop.

-- A therapy used to treat overdoses in humans is reversing signs of toxicity in sea turtles exposed to Karenia brevis algae, which cause toxic algal blooms that kill many sea turtles annually. The treatment, intravenous lipid emulsion therapy, involves injecting a fatty solution into the bloodstream. It causes toxins to bind to fats instead of organs. "This therapy has been used in dogs and cats for more than a decade. It's been very successful in treatment of ivermectin toxicity. Ivermectin and similar drugs are familiar to most people as a key component in many heartworm preventive medications and they're very safe, but sometimes pets can overdose if they eat lots of preventive at once or get into products used in horses," says Dr. Kelly Diehl, senior scientific programs and communications adviser at Morris Animal Foundation.

-- A 25-pound cat named Cinderblock has gone viral after videos of her weight loss routine -- including using a water treadmill -- were released by veterinarian Brita Kiffney, who is supervising the cat’s diet and exercise program. As many of us have done, Cinderblock complained about using the treadmill, meowing plaintively while dabbing at it with a single paw. Dr. Kiffney hopes the videos will raise awareness about the importance of keeping pets in shape. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by “The Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.