Don’t forget those fur-legged friends on your gift list this year.

With nearly 70% of households owning a pet, it’s official: There are more pet-owning households than there are those with children, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Erin Evans Green said that as pets become more like family than a pet, owners tend to spoil them like they would their kids or grandkids.

“We believe that pets are family,” said Evans Green, vice president of UPCO in St. Joseph. “Being part of the family means including them in the family holiday traditions. Including your pet makes your bond stronger and allows you to share more joy with your well-deserving pet. “

She said giving to someone else’s pet is also a great opportunity to get that person who doesn’t need anything a gift.

“You recognize that their pets are an important part of their life and it is a unique, thoughtful way to give them something special,” she said.

Evans Green is the third generation of the family-owned pet-care business that started in 1952. UPCO carries a plethora of animal supplies, including items that would make great gift ideas for pets from dogs and cats to rabbits and hamsters.

“The most popular gifts are toys,” Evans Green said.

But there are also Pupcakes and puzzle games that encourage your pet to work for a reward. She said the amount individuals spend on their pets ranges, but averages about $25.

Evans Green said it gets harder to compete with big-box stores every year.

“We truly do try our best to provide unparalleled service and prices to keep our customers coming back. Shopping local allows us to support our community, keep money invested in our community and stimulate the local economy.”

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