Gift guide: Presents for pets and pet lovers that give back

Dec 1 2016, 1:31 pm

Whether you’re shopping for your four-legged friend or the special animal lover on your Christmas list, these gifts have one thing in common: They all benefit animal charities.   

My 2016 “gifts that give back” guide is chock full of stylish and ethical products that you can give with a smile on your face, knowing you’re making a difference in the life of animals.

Happy shopping!

Found my Animal 

Courtesy Found My Animal.

Courtesy Found My Animal.

Lovingly handmade in Brooklyn, New York, Found My Animal sells seriously stylish dog leashes, collars and harnesses, as well as travel accessories. Their ombre leashes have been a runaway hit. Made with marine-grade rope and brass hardware, each item has individually-numbered, stamped tags that keep track of how many animals they’ve helped so far. The adjustable hardware on the leashes makes it simple to clip your pup to a tree or post too.

Where to buy: Bones Pet Store in Yaletown, Barking Babies, and online.

Benefit: Found My Animal supports dozens of dog organizations, including Best Friends Animal Society and Pet-A-Palooza in Victoria.

Danes and Divas 

Southwest Prep set, Courtesy Danes and Divas.

Southwest Prep set, Courtesy Danes and Divas.

This Vancouver company creates a fantastic range of well-made, stylish and durable dog harnesses, leashes and collars, scarves, bandanas and detachable bow ties and flowers for collars. Its holiday collection offers chic, playful prints with a nod to the classics, like tartans, plaids and herringbone. Its reversible bandanas attach right to your pup’s collar, so they won’t easily detach. With styles ranging from dapper and preppy to boho and tribal, there’s something for every dog and dog lover on your list.

Where to buy: Bone & Biscuit and Moonlight Dog Cafe in Vancouver, and online.

Benefit: Donates to the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS), BC SPCA and Soi Dog.

Bonus: Use the code VANCOUVER for free shipping in Greater Vancouver until December 11.

Lush Charity Pot 

Courtesy Lush.

Courtesy Lush.

Made with fairtrade shea butter, this moisturizing body lotion from Lush will leave your skin feeling soft — and your heart feeling full knowing that you’re helping animal welfare causes. Just a drop will cure your skin from that awful lizard-like feeling that sets in around this time of year. They also just released a fantastic line of makeup that’s cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

Benefit: 100% of the price minus taxes goes to grassroots organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and animal welfare.

Where to buy: LUSH online and at its Robson Street store.


Courtesy BarkBox.

Courtesy BarkBox.

This delivery service is truly the gift that keeps on giving for the special dogs in your life. For $19 a month, this subscription service delivers a box packed with treats and toys to your doorstep every month. There’s also a MeowBox for cats. All of the treats are made in North America and the unique toys are ones you won’t find in the big-box pet stores. A great feature of BarkBox is you can customize the monthly delivery to your dog’s size, meaning your teacup Yorkie won’t end up with a bully stick the size of its head.

Benefit: 10% of revenue goes towards supporting local rescue groups.

Where to buy: Online

Greening Your Pet Care 

Courtesy Darcy Matheson.

Courtesy Darcy Matheson.

Caution: Shameless product plug. My book, Greening Your Pet Care, is an easy-to-read and comprehensive guide to being an eco-friendly and compassionate pet parent. From nutrition to grooming, this is the definitive guide for environmentally conscious pet owners who want to lower their pet’s “carbon paw print.”

Where to buy: Chapters locations across Canada and Amazon.

Benefit: Partial proceeds benefit the BC SPCA and Senior Animals In Need Today Society (SAINTS), an end of life sanctuary for pets in Mission, B.C.

SPUD pet food delivery

Courtesy Darcy Matheson.

Courtesy Darcy Matheson.

Give the animal lover in your life the gift of never having to lug another bag of heavy pet food or kitty litter again! This super popular grocery delivery service recently expanded to include natural and local products your pet is sure to love. There’s food and treats for cats and dogs made from local meats and veggies with no byproducts. It’s also got a great selection of toys, care items and grooming items, including biodegradable shampoos and eco-friendly poop bags. These are pet products you can feel good about buying.

Benefits: Donates to Vancouver-area rescue LEASH.

Bonus: Use the code PETLOVE for $20 off your first $60 purchase.

AspenClean pet-friendly cleaning products

Courtesy AspenClean.

Courtesy AspenClean.

Give the gift of pet-friendly cleaners. The Environmental Working Group gave this line of non-toxic cleaning products and colour-coded microfiber cloths straight A’s in their Guide to Healthy Living. Scented with lavender, bergamot and grapefruit essential oils, they smell fantastic and work well for pet odours and messes. Their house and carpet cleaning services are also pet-friendly and will leave your home sparkling for the holiday season.  

Where to buy: Available at Whole Foods and online.

Benefits: During December, AspenClean will donate $5 from each Whole House Cleaning Kit to the BC SPCA when you buy online.

Bonus: Use the code SPCA to get 10% off your purchase.

Happy Spritz 

Courtesy Happy Spritz.

Courtesy Happy Spritz.

This collection of aromatherapy oils features sweet-smelling essential oils handcrafted with organic ingredients like lavender, citrus and peppermint. With blends designed to energize, invigorate or calm, the plant-based oils are a sweet present for anyone on your list. One of its bestsellers, Sweet Dreams Darling, does a fantastic job to ease nervousness and separation anxiety in dogs.

Benefits: This year Happy Spritz has supported the Montreal SPCA’s legal fight against the pit bull ban, high-kill shelters in California and Fort McMurray SPCA, to help animals displaced by wildfires.

Bonus: Use the code ChooseHappyHive for 25% off your online order.

Handsome Mountain bandanas 

Courtesy Handsome Mountain.

Courtesy Handsome Mountain.

Seeing an opening in the marketplace for hip pet products, Jesse Nightingale launched Handsome Mountain with a focus on producing fashionable bandanas, poop bags, collars and dog beds with a real West Coast flair. Jesse hand prints many of her designs, including the Bear Paw art inspired by Aboriginal artisans. Her products are handcrafted and sure to make any dog lover on your Christmas list smile.

Where to buy: Online and Barking Babies.

Benefit: $1 from every bandana is donated to the BC SPCA.

Bonus: Use the code MYFIRSTHM to save 10% on your first purchase.

Mercy For Animals gear 

Courtesy Mercy For Animals.

Courtesy Mercy For Animals.

From Christmas ornaments to cozy sweaters and hats, ‘Love All Animals’ home decor pillows and compassion candles, Mercy for Animals’ online store has everything you need to bring the compassionate holiday spirit to life. My favourite pick of the season? Their ‘Kale by the Pound’ t-shirt.

Where to buy: Online at

Benefit: Proceeds support MFA’s lifesaving work for animals.

SPCA space leggings 

Courtesy BC SPCA.

Courtesy BC SPCA.

A dog and cat in space, and a donut? Who wouldn’t want that on their tights? These out-of-this-world leggings, which come and cat and dog versions, are made in Canada and are sure to be a hit this holiday season. The BC SPCA online store also has some fantastic ugly sweaters for both Christmas and Hanukkah.

Where to buy: Available online and at Vancouver BC SPCA branch.

Benefit: 100% of proceeds benefit the lifesaving work of the BC SPCA.

Wine + dogs = perfect 

Courtesy PetSmart.

Courtesy PetSmart.

These cozy plush blankets from PetSmart combine two of life’s greatest joys: dogs and wine. If the whole “I just want to drink wine & pet my dog” theme isn’t for you, there are also some fantastic fetching plaid, Santa pet and snowflake patterns. The blankets are machine-washable, which is handy because the odds are pretty good you’ll have a dog curled up on you pretty fast. PetSmart also has two Luv-A-Pet seasonal plushies that give back to charity.

Where to buy: In PetSmart locations and online.

Benefit: 10% of proceeds benefits PetSmart Charities of Canada.

Eco-friendly dog jackets



These Elanor pup jackets are made of recycled and repurposed material, mainly 100% wool. Complete with (faux) fur detachable hood, these stylish jackets, which come in a range of patterns and styles, provide warmth and comfort for the chilly winter months.

Where to buy: Various boutiques across Canada and online.

Benefits: Local pet charities

Puppy hoodies

Courtesy Eco-Pup.

Courtesy Eco-Pup.

Made using soft bamboo-cotton blends, these Eco-Pup hoodies are the perfect wardrobe staple for the urban puppy. The clothes are made from certified organic, reclaimed and recycled fabrics and are hand-made in Vancouver.

Benefits: SAINTS sanctuary in Mission.

Where to buy: Various boutiques across Vancouver and online.

Holiday bow ties

Courtesy iL CANE collection.

Courtesy iL CANE collection.

Your pup can celebrate the howl-idays with these faux-leather holiday bow ties from iL CANE. The ties attach to collars with stretchable elastic loops, and will stay on through dog play, outdoor hikes or a good, old game of fetch. Also comes in red velvet and black waxed.

Benefits: Donates to the BC SPCA.

Where to buy: Barking Babies or online.

Bonus: Enter code X-MAS-SPECIAL for free shipping.

The Underdog Project calendars 

Courtesy Jason Kenzie and Tania Ryan.

Courtesy Jason Kenzie and Tania Ryan.

Vancouver photographers Jason Kenzie and Tania Ryan created The Underdog Project to raise awareness and funds for Vancouver-area rescue Thank Dog I Am Out. The photographs featured in these super creative calendars were taken by having the dogs stand on glass, and many of the pooches are rescue dogs.

Where to buy: Online.

Benefits: 35% of calendar proceeds benefit Thank Dog I Am Out.

And watch Darcy Matheson showing off items from the gift guide on CTV News at Noon.

Darcy MathesonDarcy Matheson

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