While Prancer and Vixen help bring Christmas cheer, it’s Fido and Fluffy we’re thinking of more and more this time of year.
Americans spend an average of $5 billion on their pets during the holidays and more than $50 billion on them annually, according to the American Pet Products Association. Since more than 60 percent of American households have pets, something for Butch or Roxy (or Lucky or Missy) might be the perfect gift solution for the pet lovers on your list.
But hang up the boring old leash and consider upgrading to something more high-tech. Here are our top picks for best gadgets for pet lovers, part of our ABC News holiday gift guide series. We admit some of them are on the splurge side.
For Spying on Your Pet
Is your dog spending the day as a couch potato or is he hopping the fence and roaming free? Tagg can tell you.
Produced by Snaptracs, Tagg is a GPS-tracking enabled clip-on for any dog collar. It can alert owners via text message or email when their pet escapes the house and then help locate him.
In addition, much like the Nike+ FuelBand for humans, Tagg has an Activity Tracking option, which can monitor your pet’s activity and keep track of fitness trends. ($99.95 plus a $7.95 monthly cellular connection fee, Tagg )
DogTek Eyenimal Pet Cam
Since you’re already tracking your pet’s movements, why not also get a dog or cat’s-eye view of where they’re going with the DogTek Eyenimal Pet Cam.
The Eyenimal is a small, clip-on digital camera, designed to attach to a standard cat or dog collar.
Let’s get nerdy: The camera includes a CMOS sensor with automatic light adjustment, a built-in microphone, 640 x 480 image resolution and image capture at 29 frames per second.
Weighing 1.2 ounces, about half of the weight of a deck of cards, the camera comes with 4GB of memory, giving you about two and a half hours of video. ($99, DogTek )
For Getting Your Pet Back in Shape
Increase muscle definition, improve tone, have a longer life and greater happiness. If that sounds like a pitch from your local gym, you’re not far off, except this time, your dog is the client.
PetZen DogTread is a company that makes dog-sized treadmills to help Coco or Duke shed some extra weight and expel energy. It comes in three different sizes, for small, medium and large dogs.
This is not a human-sized treadmill made smaller. Krista Wickens, co-owner of PetZen Products, said her company worked with pet behaviorists, trainers and veterinarians for two years to develop a fitness treadmill for dogs. It can also be used to help with training; you can walk beside or in front of your dog in a controlled environment before heading outside.
“We looked at how a dog moved and how it thinks,” Wickens said. “We also made [the DogTread] whisper quiet so it doesn’t have the vibration of a human treadmill.”
Ideal for apartment dwellers and elderly owners, the DogTread tracks the dog’s speed and progress over time. Wickens said the DogTread doesn’t offer a “leash binding mechanism” on purpose, so “people can’t tie their dog to the machine and walk out.”
“The reason we sell these treadmills is for people who don’t have the space to exercise their dogs as they need to,” she said. “Movement is the key to a better-behaved dog.” (starting at $599, PetZen Products and DogTread.com )
BONUS: For equine lovers who really love to splurge, the HydroHorse would make the Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gift catalog blush. It’s an underwater treadmill system for horses that can be heated or chilled, and ranges in price from $60,000 to $85,000.
Dart Automatic Pet Laser Toy
Beam them up, Kitty!
The Dart is an automatic 360-degree rotating laser light with various speeds and time settings to produce 16 different play combinations. The timer shuts it off automatically after 10, 15 or 20 minutes.
When placed on a flat surface, such as a table or the floor, the Dart promises oodles of hilarity as you watch your cat or dog chase the light around the room, but it’s also exercise for those chubby pets.
Word of advice: Consider removing anything breakable before setting up shop. ($29.99, ThinkGeek )
For High-Energy Pets Playing Outside
GoDogGo G3 Fetch Machine
If your pet lover’s pup has more energy than a kindergartner on sugar cookies, then this product might be for them.
GoDogGo’s remote-controlled automatic ball launcher for dogs has three launch settings, which can be used in various spaces from a backyard to a baseball field. It can send a ball 12 to 42 feet, depending on the ball type and size, at 7- to 15-second intervals. According to their website, a standard tennis ball can be launched between 30 to 35 feet, while a racquet ball can go over 40 feet. Perhaps a good gift for elderly dog owners or those with shoulder issues. ($137.99, GoDogGo )
Go-Go Dog Pals
Sorry, squeaky toys, but you don’t hold a candle to a remote-controlled woodchuck.
Made of lightweight, durable hard plastic, Go-Go Dog Pals are remote-controlled dog toys designed to look like squirrels, rabbits,
turtles, porcupines, or, yes, woodchucks. Think of it as upping the ante on a game of fetch.
Recommended for all dogs, especially high-energy ones, and for owners who don’t have a lot of time to play with their pets, or who are older or otherwise “fitness challenged.” ($300, GoGoDogPals )
Just for Humans
Let’s Go Design’s Dog Walking Utility Jacket
If Batman were a dog owner, this would be his dog-walking jacket.
The K-Rosco Dog Walking Utility Jacket is waterproof, has detachable sleeves to become a vest, and sports numerous specialized pockets and clips with a dog walker’s needs in mind.
In the left pocket is a removable plastic pocket liner for treats. In the right cargo pocket is a retractable key chain for your house keys. Two more clips can hold extra toys or gloves or hats. Another pocket sports a roll of extractable pick-up bags which are fed through a grommet hole for easy access. A strong leash belt around the waist can handle a dog up to 75 pounds for hands free dog-walking. The list goes on. ($290, Let’s Go Design )