A pet parent’s guide to online shopping


Office etiquette for dogs

Online shopping is easy and convenient. For a safe and secure experience, keep these tips in mind when ordering gifts for the animal lovers on your list.

Many people dread shopping. Fighting crowds, standing in long lineups, trying to find a parking spot at the mall…it can be exhausting to say the least. That’s one reason why more and more people are turning to online shopping. After all, what could be simpler than making your purchases from the comfort of your own home and having them shipped right to your door?

Nowadays, you can buy just about everything you want online – and that includes pet supplies. Whether you’re gift-shopping for a fellow animal lover, or for your own fur baby, you’ll find a multitude of products available online through numerous pet supply retailers. From toys, leashes, beds, bowls and apparel to natural pet foods, treats, supplements and grooming products, everything your animal friends need to stay happy and healthy can be bought with the click of a mouse. Companies that offer online shopping services include Only Natural Pet Store , LifeFORCE Pet Health, and Pet Wellbeing, among many others. Keep in mind that when it comes to pet foods, treats and supplements as well as grooming and pest control products, some companies offer conventional as well as natural health products, so you’ll need to do some browsing to find what you’re looking for.

Minimize the risks

Online shopping may be easy, but it doesn’t come without risk. According to Consumer Reports, nearly two million households were victims of internet ID theft in 2009 alone. Taking steps to ensure your credit card isn’t compromised, or your identity doesn’t get stolen, will keep your experience stress-free, as it’s meant to be.

• Only buy through websites you know are legitimate. There are a lot of scammers out there. Do your homework about the best places to make online purchases before giving anyone your credit card information – visit Epinions or Bizrate for consumer evaluations. You can also ask your animal-loving friends, veterinarian, groomer, local shelter staff, etc., where they purchase online for their companions. Be wary of deals; always remember the old adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

• Whenever possible, look for websites that offer secure shopping. If the site is secure, the URL will start with https:// instead of http:// and a small lock icon should appear on the address bar or the lower right corner of the screen.

• Keep your web browser, anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date, and make sure you have a filter that warns or blocks you from visiting suspicious sites.

• Use your credit instead of your debit card. If someone gets hold of your debit card info, they can empty your account before you even realize what’s happened.

• Do your shopping at home, not at a library, hotel or internet café, and use your own computer to make your purchases. Public Wi-Fi connections can be easily targeted by hackers.

• Don’t allow the website to store your credit card number. Make one-time payments with each purchase. That way, if someone ever hacks into the company’s system, your credit card information won’t be compromised.

• Carefully check your credit card bill every month for any discrepancies. One way to make this task less time-consuming is to keep all your credit card receipts in one folder, and check them off against the bill when it comes in. If you see any unauthorized purchases, report them to your bank immediately.

By using common sense and keeping your security in mind, you can eliminate a lot of shopping stress this festive season by going online.

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