Because our pets are part of our family, most of us shop for Fido and wrap at least a few gifts for him to open under the tree. Here are a few suggestions and warnings.
Practical items might include a new collar and leash. If you’re looking at decorative items, be sure they are well-made with secure latches and bolt snaps so your dog remains safe. Non-spill stainless steel or ceramic food and water bowls can replace plastic dishes (which may cause irritation or hair loss around your dog’s face). Tall dogs may appreciate elevated food and water stations. If your dog has outgrown his crate, perhaps a new wire kennel is in order. Or how about a plush dog bed (perhaps not the best choice for destructive chewers).
Cute toys are often impulse purchases and they can be okay for supervised play. Every dog needs at least one plush Santa with 12 squeakers; however, use extra caution if your dog likes to shred and destroy. You don’t want stuffing or plastic pieces ingested when your back is turned. Use the same caution when giving toys made from rope; long strings that are swallowed can cause serious problems.
Puzzles and games designed for canine stimulation have become very popular and may be good choices for some dogs under close supervision. Large, strong and determined dogs may bypass the little trap door to get the treat, destroying the entire toy in the process. Keep your dog’s intensity in mind before spending big bucks on the latest fad when the extra-large Kong-type toy might be the safest choice for your canine.
Real bones, bully sticks, antlers and rawhide are controversial dog chews which polarize pet owners and veterinarians. For every dog who has safely chewed on these items, there are others who have experienced digestive distress, suffered worn or fractured teeth and internal obstructions. Play devil’s advocate and ask yourself what’s the worst-case scenario based on your dog’s chewing intensity. Take small and worn pieces away before they can get caught in your dog’s throat or cause a blockage.
Treats are always good choices, provided they are made from quality ingredients and don’t conflict with any allergies your dog may have. Read the labels and check expiration dates. Until you’re certain your dog’s digestive system can tolerate the new treats, break them into tiny pieces and limit the quantities. (Be sure to have your dog do something – sit, down, shake hands, etc. – to earn his rewards!)
Have fun with Fido’s gift list and be sure to watch for next week’s newsletter where we offer suggestions for holiday gatherings that involve your pets.