For pet parents or friends of pet parents, picking a gift Fido or Felicia to participate in the holidays can have mistaken assumptions and difficulties. We offer the following tips for safe and sensible gifts for the furry family member in someone near to you or in your own life.
Interactive toys: These are great for bonding with your pet and for providing needed exercise and stimulation.
For cats, nothing beats a stick, string and something small to pounce on be it a feather or stuffed mouse. We also collect old, freshly washed, unpaired socks. Sprinkle a little catnip inside and then knot it. Great for tossing around hardwood floors. For the ultimate in ‘pounce and kill’ play: small, low power laser devices are also a lot of fun. Remember, never shine a laser in anyone or any pet’s eyes.
For dogs, we really like the Chuckit rubber balls with the holes for inserting small treats. These balls are available in several sizes to match the size of your Fido. We especially favor these balls over same sized tennis balls for the larger dog. Unlike regular tennis balls, they’re virtually indestructible yet ‘chewy’. Combine these balls outdoors with the Chuckit thrower for getting a couch potato pooch active again.
Pet Insurance: A gift of one year of pet insurance for a retired parent or grand parent is great for ensuring the furry companion in their life stays healthy and happy.
Microchip: Another great gift to a retiree for their furry companion if said Fido or Felicia is not already ‘chipped. Don’t forget to register the chip too!
Gifts not to give.
Purchased food treats and chews – especially from China: Getting one of those monster rawhide bones for a tiny dog can be fun and funny, but many pets are on special diets for food sensitivities or various medical conditions.
Table Scraps: Guests and well meaning family members should be warned against giving any treat from the table to any furry family member. It’s not just the possibility of poisoning Fido with foods which may contain Xylitol, raisins, chocolate, onions and other dog harmful ingredients, it’s also the potential for serious stomach upset such as pancreatitis, stomach bloat, diarrhea and vomiting. Stomach bloat in larger dogs can result in a flipped stomach requiring emergency surgery. General rule? No table scraps at all unless you check before hand and know they are safe. Never assume ‘safeness’ of any given treat until you check first. No skin, bones or fats – ever.
Cheap toys, products from countries including China: Avoid toys that can be readily shredded, easily chewed into small bits or painted / dyed in bright colors (can be poisonous). Get well constructed, sturdy toys that suit the intended recipient. Small plastic balls with bells inside are not suitable for Fido. At the first crunch, Fido will have a mouthful of plastic splinters. Similarly, squeakers in plush toys which a larger dog can easily shred can become a real problem if they swallow it.
China has been singled out above due to a history of not testing raw materials for safeness, unsafe additives and non-existent safety testing. The cheaper the product, the more likely it is to have safety problems.
For the Do It Yourselfer, these resources may be helpful: