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2021 Vet-Approved Dog Gift Guide


dog sitting on person's lap next to wrapped Embark Dog DNA Kit gift

Like 2020, 2021 has ushered in many changes and our dogs and puppies are right there beside us through it all. The unconditional love and support we get from our furry friends are unmatched. So with so many options out there, how do you pick the perfect gifts for your dog

How about we start with safety? Many pet toys and gifts contain toxins like lead, phthalates, cadmium, bromine, and chromium to name a few. Additionally, many of the products marketed for chewing can be hard enough to fracture teeth or be a risk for gastrointestinal upset. Even if you use non-toxic products, not every dog or puppy gift is safe for every type of dog. We’re digging up some veterinarian-approved dog gifts with tips to keep in mind this holiday season. Check out 12 gift ideas that veterinarians love! Let’s deck the paws!

Four Vet-Approved Toys That Make Great Gifts

Buying your dog a toy this holiday season? Remember, there is a “knee cap rule” among veterinarians which says that if a toy is too hard to hit against your knee cap, it is too hard for your dog to chew on and is a risk for tooth fractures. Also, always supervise your pup while using toys to make sure they do not try to chew and ingest pieces. 

1. Classic KONG

Picture of Classic KONG Toy

A great “high value” and time-consuming goodie, the Kong can be filled with your dog’s kibble, safe & approved fruit and veggies, or treats (sparingly!). They can even be frozen to last a little longer. 

2. Goodie Bone

The natural KONG rubber formula is created to be durable for power chewing dogs. The Classic KONG and Goodie Bone offers enrichment by helping satisfy dogs’ instinctual needs.

Did you know? Products that are made from natural rubber do not have common pet toy toxins like BPA compounds. Plus, the durable rubber is dishwasher-safe, so you can keep these toys clean. 

Tip: Does your pup have a favorite toy? It’s important to clean dog toys regularly to kill bacteria and germs. 

3. Dog Treat Ball by Beco Pets 

An eco-upgrade from the classic tennis ball, this fun to fetch toy is 100% natural rubber with a hollow center for hiding treats.

Did you know? Tennis balls can be toxic for your pet and are manufactured with a myriad of materials designed for the sport of tennis not for your fido. The materials can act like sandpaper and slowly wear down your dog’s teeth to the point of needing removal or root canals.

Tip: Ditch tennis balls and look for pet-safe balls like Beco Pets. The added bonus with this gift is treat dispenser toys are a great source of mental stimulation for dogs. 

4. Cotton Rope Knot Puppy Toy by SunGrow

SunGrow’s Gaby the Giraffe and Daisy the Dog chew toys are made with cotton and edible dyes are used to create the color. These soft, durable dog toys are washable, and reliable to chew on.

Did you know? If ingested, the fibers from rope toys can cause digestive issues. 

Tip: Regularly check your dog’s teeth for any signs of the fibers being wrapped around their teeth. In addition, inspect rope toys regularly or avoid them entirely if you have an unpredictable super chewer on your hands. 

Five Dog Care Gifts for Pawfect Pet Parents

When you’re picking out the best dog gifts, your dog’s health should be top of mind. These gifts have been vetted and approved by actual veterinarians, so you know you’re giving your dog a gift that will help them live a happier and healthier life.

1. Pet State Lick Mats 

Picture of PetSafe Lick Mat

The Pet State three-piece lick pads with super-strong suction are made using a Non-Toxic, BPA-Free Food-Grade Silicone. Each licky mat is highly durable, freeze-free, and dishwasher safe. ​​The intricate design of the mats creates a dog slow feeder mat, forcing them to take their time to eat, improving digestion, and reducing bloating.

Did you know? When dogs lick into something, pleasure endorphins are released in their brain, helping them calm down. Lick mats can soothe your best bud in stressful situations like nail clipping sessions, scary trips to the vet, and bath time. By deflecting your pet’s attention to licking and eating, it makes them less prone to bark or chew on furniture.

2. Embark Dog DNA Test: Breed + Health Kit 

With a simple cheek swab — test for 215+ genetic health risks, 350+ breeds, and 35+ physical traits. Embark’s health report makes it easy to send your pup’s results to their vet to make a care plan for all their years to come. Get ahead of canine diseases that occur later in life including glaucoma, degenerative myelopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy, three of the most common adult-onset diseases in dogs. Knowing that your dog is predisposed as early as possible means starting prevention or treatment early too. Give the gift of discovery this holiday season.

3. Coastal Chill Pad Dog Mat 

This dog mat can be used at home, in the crate, or on the go! The versatile and lightweight design paired with soft and durable woven fabric makes it the ultimate chill pad for any chill pup. Designed to fit in most standard pet crates, this mat is filled with the perfect amount and density of high-loft PlanetFill® filler — made from 100% post-consumer certified-safe recycled plastic bottles. Machine washable and dryer friendly, perfect for any adventure you (and your pup) may take.

4. Bampooch Bamboo Dog Brush for shedding 

The perfect dog brush for long-haired dogs and dog brush for short-haired dogs — the natural bamboo, round-tip bristles feel great on skin. The natural bamboo wood brushes reduce static that can be caused by brushing, allowing a pleasant instead of a shocking experience. A gentle dog grooming brush for long-haired dogs and great for detangling. It can be used on wet or dry fur makes the perfect dog washing brush.

Tip: Groom your dog regularly. Grooming is a part of keeping dogs healthy. Plus, it helps you become more familiar with their body so you’ll notice early on if anything is usual and/or needs veterinary attention.

5. Furbo Full HD Wifi Dog Treat Dispenser & Camera 

With Furbo Dog Camera, your dog will feel like you’re there, even when you’re not. This camera not only lets you see and talk to your canine companion, but it also allows you to toss treats to him when you’re not home. Used by over 5,000 vets and professional dog trainers, this camera is designed to help keep your pup safe and happy. It has night vision, a 160-degree wide-angle view day and night, a barking alert that detects when your dog is barking and can record videos.

Tip: You can reduce or prevent separation anxiety in your dog or puppy with crate training while you’re in the house. This can better prepare your fur baby for alone time. 

Three of the Best Holiday Treats for Healthy Dogs

We asked Dr. Erika Olney, DVM about buying safe treats for your pup. These were her expert tips when giving something tasty as a gift for your dog or puppy:

  • Treats should make up no more than 10% of your pet’s diet. Your veterinarian can help calculate how many calories per day are appropriate to come from treats. Not all treats work for all pets, so it’s especially important to understand your dog’s breed mix and individual needs.
  • In combination with veterinary dental check-ups and a full dental home care routine, some treats can also serve a dual purpose of helping to prevent tartar and plaque accumulation.
  • Ideally, only try one new treat at a time to make sure that it does not cause stomach upset.
  • There are some categories of treats that we have learned may be problematic, such as jerky treats. It may be safest to avoid these altogether.

1. Vibrac C.E.T. VeggieDent Tartar Control Dog Chews 

Virbac C.E.T VeggieDent

These plant-based chews help keep your dog’s dental health in check by cleaning her gums and freshening her breath all while promoting a balanced digestive system! They are crafted with a chewy consistency to help eliminate plaque and tartar, and they are designed with a Z-shape, so your dog can get a better grip while chewing to her heart’s content. Your bud will love the benefits that these medium Virbac chews have to offer.

2. Pet Botanics Training Rewards 

Recommended by thousands of professional trainers, Pet Botanics Training Rewards Bacon Flavor Dog Treats are perfectly sized for repetitive rewards required during training. Pet Botanics training rewards are easy to carry in your pocket or treat bag at just three calories per treat and over 500 treats per bag. Healthy and nutritious: made with real pork liver and enhanced with BotaniFits, a natural nutrient blend.

3. Greenies Regular Dental Dog Treats 

With a unique texture that fights plaque and tartar down to the gum line, these powerful dental chews come vet-recommended for deliciously easy at-home oral care. They’re made from natural ingredients that are easy to digest and fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to promote overall good canine health.

Vet tip: Greenies can cause some GI upset (diarrhea, vomiting) in some pets, but are well-tolerated for the most part, and they are on this list of approved products from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.


Interested in more gift guides for dogs and the people who love them? Check out our dog mom gift guide, our Mother’s Day gift guide, and some delightful gifts for the dogs in your life.


Mo Osinubi Contributor

An animal lover at heart, MO grew up with a Rottweiler puppy named Sheba, who sparked her love for animals. Throughout high school, MO worked as an aquarium guide at the New England Aquarium and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. However, her passion for writing and media led her to study marketing and communication. At Embark Veterinary, MO is a Senior Growth Marketing Manager and is delighted to bridge her love for animals with her career.

Read more about Mo Osinubi

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