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More than half of pet owners give animals gifts

Just over half of American pet owners will buy gifts for their pets this holiday season, and they'll spend an average of $46 on their animals, with toys and treats topping the list, according to a new AP-Petside.com poll.

Sixty-eight percent of pets getting gifts can look forward to a toy, 45 percent to food or another treat, 8 percent to new bedding, 6 percent to clothing, 3 percent to a leash, collar or harness and 3 percent to new grooming products, the poll showed. (Some pets will get more than one gift.)

Although the average budget for pet gifts among those surveyed was $46, 72 percent of those polled said they'd spend $30 or less. Those who bought gifts for their pets last year said they spent $41 on average.

Overall, 51 percent of those polled this year said they would buy holiday gifts for their pets, a figure that's been relatively stable in the last few AP-Petside.com polls. It was 53 percent last year, 52 percent in 2009 and 43 percent in 2008.

Income does matter. Those making $50,000 or more say they plan to spend an average $57 on their pets. Those making under $50,000 say it will be $29.

Younger pet owners are more apt to say they'll buy their pet a holiday gift, including 56 percent of pet owners under age 50. Among those ages 50 to 64, it's 47 percent, and among seniors, 39 percent, the poll showed.

Steve Gottula's budget was $100 last year and he figures it will run about the same this year for his two dogs and seven cats. Odie, a dachshund, and Sky, a Dalmatian, will get special bones, and the cats will get catnip and mouse balls.

Gottula, 48, his wife, Leigh, (she's the one who brings home the strays) and five kids (ages 6 to 16) live with the nine pets in Spring, Texas.

His daughters have made stockings for the pets — with their initials — and they are always part of holiday celebrations, Gottula said. "The cats like to play with the paper and ribbon and get lost in the boxes and wrappings," he said.

What do his pets mean to him? "They are entertaining, they are companions. . . . They all have personalities. If you give love to them they give it back — it's unconditional," he said.

More than half of pet owners give animals gifts 12/05/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2011 11:13am]

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