12 Days of Pet-mas: The last minute

Don't beat yourself up -- waiting until the last minute to purchase those holiday gifts is a proud tradition.

So is complaining about how expensive it is to own a pet, so a last-minute gift card to a pet-supplies retailer is seldom a bad idea for a pet lover. If you don't have time to stop by your local indie pet store, PetSmart and Petco, among others, offer e-cards for those Christmas-Eve "oops" shopping sprees. Just print out the gift certificate and tuck it into a stocking.

Slideshow: Pet-related gifts to avoid at all costs

You can also make a charitable donation online, in the name of a loved one and/or her pets. Pick an animal charity with meaning to the giftee, or one in her hometown; breed-rescue groups can always use your help, too. Even a few dollars is a thoughtful present that could help a lot of animals. (Check out our list of ways to help animals in need if you're stumped.)

Shine contributors talk about their favorite Christmas memories with pets

And what to get for the pets themselves at the very last minute? Sure, our companion animals enjoy treats and toys, but the best thing you can give them is more of your time. Take an extra walk with your dog, or cuddle with your cat while watching 'It's a Wonderful Life.' Appreciate your pets; if they could talk, it's what they'd ask for.

"Actually, my dog would ask for food, I'm pretty sure." Fair enough! Make time in your cookie schedule to bake up some puppy treats.

Want more?
If you MUST give a pet as a gift, be prepared
3 ways to blast pet messes before your holiday guests arrive
Dye your dog for the holidays