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Best of Etsy: Pet toys and gifts

Special treats for your pet

From SheKnows Canada
With their warm welcomes and unconditional love, pets are always there for you no matter what kind of a day you're having. So take the time to show how much you appreciate them with these great toys, treats and other gift ideas from the talented artisans at Etsy.
etsy
Best of Etsy
Special treats for your pet
With their warm welcomes and unconditional love, pets are always there for you no matter what kind of a day you're having. So take the time to show how much you appreciate them with these great toys, treats and other gift ideas from the talented artisans at Etsy.

Natural dog chews

Dogs love to chew on things, so give your special little pooch something new and exciting to munch away on with these natural elk antler dog chews from Erin at Petit Dog Apparel. A fun, eco-friendly treat for your pup, the antlers are naturally shed by the elk. The shop is also filled with loads of small-dog apparel and accessories, so you have plenty more gift options to choose from.

Natural dog chewsSheKnows Canada: Do you have a pet of your own? What do you think makes pets so special to us?

Erin: Yes indeed! We have had many pets over the years. Currently we have five chihuahuas — four long-coat chihuahuas and one-short coat chi. Our most "famous" chihuahua is King Tut — a handsome black dog who does the majority of the modelling in our product shots. He does a mighty fine job! Pets bring about a sense of fulfillment and purpose. They bring us joy, unconditional love and a sense of humility by connecting us to the smaller things (no pun intended!) in our mundane lives. There are many lessons in life we can learn from our pets!

SK: What do you think sets your pieces apart from other similar products available on Etsy?

E: Etsy is a fantastic marketplace to showcase and sell handmade items. We are proud of our pet products in design, style and function. Our items look great, but they also must be quality pieces that will last and have a purpose! We only produce limited quantities of each, all handmade in Canada, in order to keep products fresh and fun! Since so much about selling online is about great photography and marketing, we are consistently upgrading our skills to improve our photos, creating a pleasing and accurate representation of our dog chews and products.

Catnip-filled toy mice

Cats can be fickle creatures, quick to lose interest in even the most expensive and fancy toys. But Susan Hall from Small Goods has come up with a solution for those picky felines. Each one of her handmade toy mice comes with a refillable catnip pocket to make sure they always pique your cat's interest.

Catnip-filled toy mouseSheKnows Canada: Do you have a pet of your own? What do you think makes pets so special to us?

Susan Hall: We have two cats — siblings — rescued as kittens from an industrial park. We also have an elderly fantail goldfish. I think that pets are important to us for many reasons. I find humans are instinctively fascinated by animals and frequently seek out interactions with them. Whether it is feeding the blue jay in your backyard, going whale watching or enjoying a great show about tigers on TV, many of us spend very enjoyable and relaxing hours observing animals. Bringing animals into our homes seems to give us the chance to satisfy this desire daily. I also feel that a pet allows us to exercise our nurturing selves. We welcome pets into our lives as part of our families and invest a good deal in their care. As a cat owner, I do this certainly not because I am showered with love and attention but because I actually feel very good giving the day-by-day care. It connects me to responsibility and purpose outside of myself, which, in the age of self-absorption, is a healthy outcome. The affection between pets and their families is a lovely bonus!

SK: What do you think sets your pieces apart from other similar products available on Etsy?

SH: My products most usually come out of a problem I'm trying to solve. The mice came out of two separate quandaries. Many years ago I started making blankets out of felted wool sweaters. I ended up with bags of cuffs, seam allowances and scraps left over from these projects. It was time to put them to use. Our cats are, for the most part, indoor cats and need exercise! Most of the cat toys I was buying were smallish and constantly lost under furniture. If they contained catnip, which our cats love, it would soon grow stale, and the cats would lose all interest. Since all playthings spend most of their time on the floor, they picked up much of the cat hair (before I could get to it — really!). A washable toy was called for. After a few prototypes, these mice became the solution to both problems! A washable, refillable mouse too big to hide! The bags full of cuffs (the catnip pocket), seam allowances (the tails) and scraps (the bodies) emptied. The mice were also designed without any manufacturing criteria. There is a lot of hand sewing involved; they would look quite different if the requirement was a totally machine-sewn product. I find that each little mouse ends up with its own personality. As well, I have no reliable source for the sweaters, because they are found in second-hand stores by chance. Each sweater felts differently, adding to the uniqueness. This makes the mice eco-friendly and with few "litter" mates! I think that these factors keep the mice safely in the handmade camp! Our cats still can be found pummelling their mice, the most senior mouse being over 7 years old!

Bird toys

If you have a bird in need of a new toy, it's hard to beat the incredible array of options created by Crystal Anderson at Crystal's Bird Toys. With over 100 great toys to choose from, such as this Jane of the Jungle bird swing, and Crystal's ability to customize something specifically for your bird's unique needs, you're sure to find just the toy you're looking for.

Bird swingSheKnows Canada: Do you have a pet of your own? What do you think makes pets so special to us?

Crystal Anderson: We are owned by Merlin, the African grey; Stryder, the white-faced cockatiel; Rosco, the (crazy) caique; and the furries — Gideon and Fynn, the Rhodesian ridgebacks. To me, what makes pets so special to us is their sense to love unconditionally and their ability to put a smile on my face no matter what. They're persistent of the latter, to say the least. No matter what, I know I'll come home from my Clark Kent day job to two excited ridgebacks and our parrots literally saying "Hi! Whatcha doin'?" I am in awe of their pure happiness and joy in just being here, living in the now.

SK: What do you think sets your pieces apart from other similar products available on Etsy?

CA: Our toys are different than others from Etsy. I grew up being a rather creative person — arts and crafts, sewing, scrapbooking, painting and more. I was disenchanted with the lack of interesting parrot toys when I first brought Merlin home in 1999 and have created most of his toys from day one. When I see a toy part, I don't just see the part; I can envision the toy it will be. I feel I have the ability to listen to our customers' parrots' desires and put them into uniquely creative toys that they actually play with [and] that are both stimulating and visually appealing. I actually talk with my customers and find out what works for them. It can also be emotional when I receive feedback from parrot owners about how we have changed their parrot's lifestyle. I have had tremendous success at creating toys that caused toyless teenage parrots to suddenly realize toys are fun. Fred's Forager and Sabrina Steps — created for two amazons who were terrified of and never had positive toy experiences in their 15-plus years — were instantly loved by their namesakes. Buttons, the abused green-winged macaw, never played with toys but closely guarded and cherished his Hazelnut Cruncher within hours of receiving his new toy. It's stories like these that help me "get inside" parrots' minds and how they play, allowing our line of toys to morph and improve over time. We like to call it the Magical CBT (Crystal's Bird Toys) Touch that goes into each toy.

Rabbit treats

If you have a cute little bunny running around your house, give him or her some special treatment with these basil blast organic rabbit treats made by Tiffany Fok at Napoleon Bunnyparte. She also offers several other delicious all-natural flavours to choose from, so you can keep things interesting for your furry friend.

Basil blast rabbit treatsSheKnows Canada: Do you have a pet of your own? What do you think makes pets so special to us?

Tiffany Fok: We currently have the privilege of caring for three rabbits and a cat. The great thing about these animals is how much you can learn from them. The relationship and trust doesn't come automatically in prey animals like rabbits, but through time and patience, you learn their quirks and behaviours and find out how rewarding and intelligent they are.

SK: What do you think sets your pieces apart from other similar products available on Etsy?

TF: Our eco-friendly toys and organic treats are all handmade to order. We study how rabbits and cats play, how they interact with their environment, and [we] design specifically with this in mind. All our proceeds are also donated directly back to animals in need, whether it be animals in shelters waiting for their forever home or the medical needs of rescued animals. We really believe that a lot of "problem behaviour" that people find with rabbits and cats, such as digging and scratching, can be helped by providing unique and varied stimulation through toys like ours. We hope to help rabbits and cats, and advocate their care. Both are not disposable or caged animals but are capable of playing, being trained, cuddles and so much more.

Dressy dog collars

When you want your pooch to feel a little more fancy, you simply must pay a visit to Varvara Veselova's shop, Vivichi Dog. She creates all kinds of adorable crochet flower collars and bow tie collars in a wide array of colours and patterns, so you can get your furry friend all dressed up.

Crocheted dog collarsSheKnows Canada: Do you have a pet of your own? What do you think makes pets so special to us?

Varvara Veselova: I am a proud mom of two chihuahuas — a boy named Rico and a girl, Zunya. Rico is a rescue. He is the sweetest boy you'll ever meet. He loves to cuddle, to get belly rubs, to roll in the grass and to tear tissue paper to shreds. Zunya is a tiny girl. She gets overly excited when she hears the word "cheese," she can play catch for hours in a row, and she might sell her soul one day for a carrot or broccoli. They are my fur kids, and I love them to pieces. What makes pets so special is their unconditional love for us — no matter how we look or how much money we have — and their ability to effortlessly fill our hearts and homes with happiness. My Rico came from a shelter and had a really rough life before he joined our family. However, this did not stop him from teaching me about forgiveness, patience and trust. He would not come near us at first, but in a short time, he did a [180-degree] turnaround and has been the sweetest cuddle bug ever since. In this fast-paced world, our pets ground us, make us feel needed and appreciated. If we are lucky, they teach us how to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. When we are feeling low or lonely, they are simply the best listeners in the whole world. They are always happy to see you and to be by your side. Not to mention that they are our little pet vacuums — my floors have never been cleaner!

SK: What do you think sets your pieces apart from other similar products available on Etsy?

VV: My love and passion for animals can be seen in every piece I create. I spend many hours, days and sometimes weeks developing every piece. Always on my mind is security and comfort for all my customers. When I get an idea, I passionately transform it, one step at a time, into a beautiful item for your fashion-forward pet. Being a perfectionist, I constantly pay close attention to details, thus assuring that every piece is unique and well made. My reward in seeing my furry customers in my creations outweighs all the time I devote to every piece. Personally there is nothing I would rather do than work with pets and create products for them. I hope to continue to do this for the rest of my life.

Modern cat feeder

Is your favourite feline currently eating out of a random kitchen bowl or other unexciting container? Change that with the help of this raised walnut-veneer cat feeder created by Glenn Ross at Vurv Design Studio. It's both practical for your cat and easy on the eyes for you and anyone who visits your home. Glenn offers a variety of stylish pet-feeding options for cats and dogs alike in his shop, so be sure to check them all out!

Modern cat feederSheKnows Canada: Do you have a pet of your own? What do you think makes pets so special to us?

Glenn Ross: I will always have a dog. The connection between people and dogs goes all the way to back to our emergence as modern man. Because we have evolved side by side, it's remarkable how well dogs can communicate with us. I also love their lack of pretense and their unconditional bond with us.

SK: What do you think sets your pieces apart from other similar products available on Etsy?

GR: I don't like to set my self apart from other Etsy sellers; I like to set myself apart from offshore-produced work, which is my real competition. When you buy from an Etsy seller, you are supporting the manufacturing class as locally as you want. You spend more, buy less, but get so much more. That money you spend stays right here in North America. The labour standards and environmental standards are high. You are supporting known ethical practices. It's like shopping at a farmers market for handmade goods. Whatever you buy, you are also buying a connection with the person who produced it, which makes for a much higher-quality relationship with the world around us.

Pizza-shaped dog toy

Gone are the days when your pooch had to chew on a boring old bone-shaped chew toy. Thanks to Shawna Ziemer at Wags and Wiggles, your dog can chew on all sorts of cleverly shaped toys, such as this pepperoni pizza.

Pizza-shaped dog toySheKnows Canada: Do you have a pet of your own? What do you think makes pets so special to us?

Shawna Ziemer: I currently have two rescue dogs. Buster is a basset-terrier mix, and Phoebe is a mini long-haired doxie. I would have to say that what makes pets so special is the unconditional love that they give. I know that probably sounds like the standard answer, but I am truly humbled on a daily basis as to what little love they ask for in comparison to the amount of love and affection they give in return. My dogs see me to the door each time I leave and are always there with such excitement to greet me at the door when I return. I can't help but smile as soon as I walk through the door.

SK: What do you think sets your pieces apart from other similar products available on Etsy?

SZ: I think my products are different than similar products on Etsy because I don't only have the dogs or cats in mind when I create my items; I am thinking of the pet owners as well. In the past, I have done a lot of interior designing and noticed that many homeowners are always looking for ways to clean up or hide their pet toys. I create my items using heavier-weight designer home decorator fabrics, so they never need to be cleaned up for company, because they complement any decor. I also pay close attention to details and quality of every item I design and create. If I would not feel comfortable buying it for my own pets, I do not sell it to others.

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