The Duck Dynasty family is ubiquitous on TV, from chatting on late-night talk shows and marching in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to appearing in pet stores as plush squeaky duck dog toys. Each toy duck vaguely resembles someone in the TV reality family. So, of course, the Willie and Jase ducks have red beards, while Phil and Si ducks have white beards. The duck toys are $13.95 to $17.95 at http://www.barkerandmeowsky.com; (773) 868-0200.
When it comes to chew toys, QT Dog offers what it calls "nature's ultimate chew toy": deer antler. That's right, no chemicals, plastics or importation issues to deal with -- just real deer antlers that have naturally been shed. Some dogs do get a tad over-zealous and can break teeth, so supervision is advised. The great thing about these antlers is that they wear down slowly, potentially lasting months, $8 to $60, http://www.qtdog.com; 800-297-1998.
Here's another long-lasting product you don't hear about every day: Himalayan dog chews. The ancient recipe from the mountains of Tibet includes yak and cow milk. The chews contain no preservatives. Tibetan farmers milk their cows and yaks daily (by hand). The cattle eat whatever they find in the forest, so the chews have no chemicals. Farmers collect about six gallons of milk to make two pounds of dog chews. Himalayan dog chews are $7.99 to $39.99, at PETsMART stores and lots of boutique pet stores.
Here's a special gift: the Motorola-Scout1000 Digital Wireless Video Pet Monitor. This techno gadget with four cameras allows families to watch a pet, and even communicate with the animal without being in the room. Infrared night vision even allows for easily monitoring in low light. Available at PETsMART stores, $299.99.
As the weather gets frigid in much of the country, many pets spend more time indoors. Even if they don't get as much physical exercise, Nina Ottosson puzzles and activity toys can keep dogs and cats busy. In some games, pets learn to move blocks or puzzle pieces to discover concealed kibble or treats. About $18 to $41 at http://www.nina-ottosson.com/ and at specialty pet stores.
Cats get a chance to play with their food using the new Cat Treat Ball from Kong. The ball has a hole for kibble or treats to tumble from when the ball is rolled. In fact, using this toy (or others like it) is a great way to feed many cats who eat dry food, $4.99 wherever pet products are sold. A larger version (with a simulated tail) is called the Kong Cat Wobbler, $15.99.
Kong has a new series of colorful toys using the original Kong concept of stuffing treats, low-fat low-salt peanut butter, or Kong paste (available at most pet stores) inside, called Quest, $7.99 to $13.99. These toys are available wherever pet products are sold.
Along the same line are the Orbee-Tuff snoop toys, squishy toys that can be loaded with kibble or treats. For extra fun, insert a small Orbee inside a larger one. Dogs love these sorts of puzzles. Orbees are $8 to $15.95 at http://www.planetdog.com/ and at many pet stores. Orbees were awarded the GOLD award for Best New Product Innovation at the Total Pet Expo this fall.
Exclusive to PETsMART is a series of plush scary abominable snowman toys (which they call Bumble) and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer toys, $4.89 to $6.29.
Guinea pigs want nothing more than to get into the Christmas spirit. A tiny Santa outfit (including a pointy hat) is $5.99 at PETsMART stores. With a Santa hat and beard, your dog or cat might even be mistaken for Kris Kringle himself in an outfit available for $11.95 at http://www.barkerandmeowsky.com.
Don't forget about Hanukkah, a series of Jewish toys includes Trayf the pink pig, Tuchis the donkey, Meshugeneh the monkey, Schmaltz the chicken, and Baa Mitzvah the lamb. Each is $9.50 at http://www.barkerandmeowsky.com.
Keeping in the Hanukkah spirit, a prayer shawl (tallis) and yarmulke (for a dog, cat or rabbit), available as a set, are $23 at http://www.barkerandmeowsky.com.
Not only is this high season for eggnog (or catnip), it's also the height of the NHL and NBA seasons, and the NFL playoffs are around the corner. Your pup can root for his/her favorite team wearing the right jersey, available at http://www.petsportsgear.com/. There are also leashes, bandanas and even toys with various team logos.
(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)
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