Pets are just as excited about the holidays as people. They get to meet new friends, play all day and the lucky ones even get gifts just like all the other members of the family.

This year shopping for your dog or cat is all about what's healthy, as well as what looks good.

"People are really concerned with what they're putting into their dog's stomachs," said Helen Goldblatt, co-owner of The Bone Appetit Bakery and Boutique in Ahwatukee Foothills. "They're really reading the labels, which is a great thing."

Bone Appetit, 4810 E. Ray Road, Suite 5, sells homemade dog treats. Goldblatt said they've seen an increase in people looking for remedies for whatever their pets are allergic to. Different treats can help pets deal with different allergens and many people are hoping to improve the health of their furry friends this year.

Malinda Malone, owner of Malinda's Pampered Pets in Ahwatukee Foothills, 4302 E. Ray Road, said fleece blankets make great gifts for pets to keep them warm and cozy throughout the year.

Bone Appetit also carries a lot of clothing and collars for dogs, which become popular during the holiday season. Dresses for girls and sweaters for boys can range anywhere from $15 to $40 and will have pets ready for the party.

Of course the dog's favorite part of any party is the food. The Bone Appetit Bakery offers a Fido Holiday Feast for $9.99. The meal is a frozen TV dinner of roasted turkey, mashed sweet potatoes and molasses, and brown rice with bacon all covered in a healthy gravy. It's a meal that's sure to make your dog grateful this holiday season.

No pet is ready for the party without being groomed first. Malinda's Pampered Pets has grooming and boarding taken care of. Though they do not offer any holiday specials, they do groom pets that stay with them and offer plenty of play time. Finding boarding for pets is a good option for those who may be too stressed to join the party.

Those planning a vacation for the holidays may prefer in-home care. Ahwatukee Foothills resident Stephanie Strackbein, owner of What Dogs Want, offers in-home care for anxious pets. Strackbein is a dog behaviorist who decided to start her own business after working in dog motels for years. "I'm 100 percent certain dogs are more comfortable at home with their own things, no matter how nice the facility," she said.

It's important to book quickly to ensure the best care for your pets. For more information about What Dogs Want, call (480) 242-0001.

Safety is another issue many forget about during the holidays. Pets are curious about all the new decor in their home and owners need to be aware to keep it out of reach.

Ornaments that look like food or are food need to be kept away from dogs, Strackbein noted. Even plants like mistletoe, poinsettias and holly can be poisonous to dogs.

Cats are especially attracted to anything Mylar or shiny and if ingested it can lead to major intestinal problems.

Food is another safety concern during the holidays. Anything high in fat and sugar can be harmful to animals. Things like tomatoes and grapes can also be problematic for dogs.

Allison Hurtado is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.

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