If the chilly weather, lawn decorations, and music at every grocery store haven’t already tipped you off, the holidays are growing near! While you’re racing around to find gifts for your family and friends and neighbors and your mail carrier’s nephew’s fiance, there’s a special someone who might slip your list entirely. If you couldn’t guess from the fact that we’re an animal hospital, we’re talking about your pet!
Whether your pet will be eating tinsel off the tree or knocking over your menorah, they deserve a shiny new toy, too. But with so many goodies and pet products on the market, it can be hard to separate the cool from the coal. That’s why we’ve put together this handy holiday gift guide, to help you shop for the picky pups and the finicky felines in your life. While we won’t be endorsing specific brands or products, we’ll take a look at categories of products to help you figure out what’s worth looking into, and what’s just a bunch of Holiday ho-hum.
As the old saying goes, every dog toy is a chew toy. Considering your pup will have their fun chewing on just about anything you give them, it’s important to make sure their toys won’t be harmful to their pearly whites. Our good friends at Veterinary Dental Services in Boxborough put together this handy dandy guide to help you determine what’s suitable for your pet’s teeth, and what’s a periodontal no-go. As a general rule of thumb (in this case literally!), anything that can’t be indented with your fingernail runs the risk of breaking teeth. So this year ditch the tennis balls and bones, and stuff your stockings with pig ears instead. They’re great for your dog, and kids love them too!
Feeders, Fountains, and Bowls:
It’s easy to take food and water bowls for granted, even though our pets use them every single day! While there’s nothing wrong with the tried and true dog dish, there are a handful of fancier products that might be worth your investment. Puzzle feeders and slow feeder dog bowls can turn dinner into a fun game that scratches that hunter instinct, and can also help out with those over-eager pups who eat so fast they make themselves sick. It’s a gift for you, too!
Cats are also notoriously bad at drinking water, which is why we typically recommend feeding wet food. But in addition to a good moist meal, some people also find that their cats respond better to a water fountain than a still bowl. Cats are inclined to think standing water is unsafe (if only puddle-drinking dogs had that instinct), so they may be more drawn to a fountain that mimics running water instead. If you struggle to get your cat to drink enough, a fountain could be the secret to a healthy, hydrated holiday.
Treats and Snacks:
Candy is a great stocking stuffer for our human friends, so maybe you want to share that love with your pets as well! But with so many options available, and with all the recent news on pet obesity rates, it can be hard to figure out what makes for a suitable snack.
As a general rule treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet, though that still leaves a lot of room for variance- a treat that’s 2% of a Leonberger’s daily caloric intake might be 20% of a Yorkie’s! One way to help manage this is to skip the store bought treats all together, and to use lower calorie, homemade alternatives like carrots, apples, and unbuttered popcorn. If you do want to go the store bought route, pay extra attention to fat content and overall calorie count, and look for treats that contain single-source ingredients as opposed to preservatives and artificial flavorings.
Pet stores are flooded with supplements these days, with many making bold claims about curing this problem or that ailment. Considering the lack of regulation around veterinary nutraceuticals it’s good to turn a skeptical eye to these sorts of products, and it’s safe to say that a good number of supplements don’t live up to their own hype. But that does beg the question, are any of these supplements worth your money? While supplements should always be used in accordance with your veterinarian’s advice, and while they can’t treat every problem, there are particular issues where they’re worthy of consideration.
Anxiety is often a complex issue that requires a combination of training and medication, but certain supplements containing ingredients such as L-theanine, L-tryptophan, magnolias officinalis, and phellodendron amurense have been shown to help with some types of anxiety. Joint pain and osteoarthritis are also issues that can require a multi-pronged approach for long term management, but supplements containing glucosamine or omega-3s can be a component in these plans. And for those dogs who have chronic gastrointestinal issues, such as frequent bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, probiotics can be useful to help get these under wraps!
They say nothing beats a homemade gift, and that’s as true with pets as it is with people. Whether you’ve got a dog or a cat, there are plenty of DIY presents you can put together without having to break the bank or brave the mall around the holidays. Plus, we’re sure you have more boxes than you know what to do with this time of year, so here are some ideas!
Dogs tend to be fairly food motivated, so there are plenty of toys, games, and puzzles you can put together to make them work for their treats. Cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, and muffin tins can all be turned into puzzles with minimal effort, and if you’re feeling especially ambitious you can even make a furniture obstacle course around your house!
Cats are a little less treat-obsessed than their canine companions, so you can get a bit more creative with their entertainment. While puzzle feeders are certainly still on the table, you can also turn cardboard boxes into sprawling cat manors and labyrinthine mazes. If you’ve got a couch potato kitty, you can even set up a TV feed with a tablet and some bird or fish videos.
Have you already shopped and dropped? If you can't bring yourself to visit one more store - actual or virtual - we understand. The gift of your love and affection is secretly all they really want, so let them unwrap a snuggle direct from you and this will be their best holiday ever!