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PetSmart expecting strong holiday sales

Many pet owners now buy gifts for their animals during the holiday season. (KTAR photo/Christina Estes)

PHOENIX -- According to the American Pet Products Association, at least half of pet owners will buy holiday gifts for their animals.

An executive with PetSmart, which is headquartered in Phoenix, told KTAR its customers spend $5-30 on gifts for their pets during the holidays. Of those, half will then buy gifts for their friends' or family members' pets, spending another $5-20.

"They're really about including the pet in the family festivities," said Senior Marketing Manager Melissa Galloway. "Every year, it feels like it just gets bigger and bigger."

While most gifts are for dogs and cats, Galloway said PetSmart's specialty market is growing. The retailer offers ornaments for fish tanks, Santa costumes for guinea pigs and an exercise wheel that plays "Jingle Bells."

PetSmart -- which has more than 1,300 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico -- is also seeing more interest in what its executives call "human-grade quality" products, such as a dog treat maker that resembles a George Foreman grill, which comes with a recipe book and molds in the shape of bones.

"A lot of pets may have allergies and you can know specifically what is in the batter you're giving them," Galloway said. "So you can mix it up however you want, if you want something organic or non-wheat."

Just like parents of children, Galloway said some pet owners like to have video monitors so they can check in while they're away from home. The devices have become a popular holiday gift.

"Personally, what I love about them is we have a pet that we're trying to train to stay off our couches...(On) one of the devices we have, you can actually speak into the monitor," she said. "So while your pet's at home, you can talk to them and say, 'Hey, get off the couch!' So the dog can hear your voice, and you can correct behavior when you're not directly there."

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