Is there a dog or cat on your holiday shopping list?
If there is, you can expect lots of company in the pet product aisles. A slim majority of pet owners -- 51 percent -- plan to buy gifts for their animals this holiday season, according to a new AP-Petside.com poll.
That's down slightly from last year (53 percent), but up from 43 percent in 2008.
Even with the economy in the doghouse, pet owners plan to spend an average of $46 on their animals, according to the poll.
Toys topped the gift list (68 percent), followed by food or treats (45 percent). But 6 percent of pets can look forward to a gift of clothing, and 3 percent new grooming products (!)
$46? That's an awful lot of Milk Bones, although I realize those cute little designer doggie sweaters that some folks like don't come cheap.
Some pet retailers even take part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, holding big sales to draw doting pet owners.
I confess, we've fallen down on the job of shopping for our canines these last few Christmases. We used to make sure that both our dogs had a wrapped gift under the tree, usually a rawhide bone.
Of course, we had to make sure we didn't put those gifts out until early Christmas morning or they'd sniff them out and devour them prematurely.
Some years, our dogs even "gave" gifts. One year, when I was especially exasperated by the damage our Lab mix puppy, Frieda, was inflicting on our living-room carpet, I unwrapped a can of Spot Shot that she'd thoughtfully placed under the tree with my name on it.
Then there was the year we included the dogs in the Christmas-card photo we shot of our kids. Mel, our big St. Bernard mutt, wore a fetching reindeer-antler headband, while Sassy, our American Eskimo, sported a Santa hat.
How about you? Will you be buying a gift for your pet this holiday season? Are there other ways you include him or her in the celebration?