Beloved holiday songs are playing on the radio, stores are decked out in festive decorations and you cannot help but feel the start of the holiday season is in the air.
This year when thinking about what presents to get your pet, try the gift challenge: think of five different gifts for five different reasons.
- Something they want.
- Something they need.
- Something to wear.
- Something to learn.
- Something donated in your pet’s name.
Something They Want.
For your cats, choose gifts that trigger their inner animal. Toys can trigger your cat’s natural hunting instincts and encourage them to play. Delight your cat with toys that take flight (feather toys), critters that rock and roll (balls, mice and such), pounce-able plush, or toys that allow then to use their cunning skills (interactive puzzle toys). If they love lounging, how about a gift of a new bed or perch, a box to explore or a blanket to cuddle up with you on the couch.
For dogs, if you have an activity enthusiast, try toys that encourage what they love to do in an appropriate outlet. Chewers will appreciate new heavy-duty chew toys that are sturdy but with a little give so they do not break any teeth (NO bones, antlers, or similar products. No one wants a broken tooth for the holidays). Get creative! Diggers may enjoy having a kid-sized swimming pool filled with dirt or sand with their special toys hidden in it for a treasure hunt. Scent seekers can find satisfaction with new boxes or special treats to play hide and seek with. Test your brainiacs with a new puzzle toy. For the fetching Fido, replace their old, worn out balls/toys with new toys or balls (preferably not a ball with a fuzzy tennis ball coating, which can harm the teeth). For Foodies, try a new treat from a local bakery, USA made treats or mix up a batch of their favorite homemade treats. When shopping for rawhide always choose USA made. Due to numerous product recalls, do not give jerky treats.
Something They Need
Try to give gifts that enrich your pet’s environment, decrease stress, and help promote a healthy life. Replace worn out beds, bowls or litter boxes. As your pet ages their needs change. There are many products to help arthritic pets: orthopedic beds, steps to help them navigate areas they used to be able to jump up on, raised bowls, and belly bands and doggie diapers for those who many have trouble holding urine. Grooming supplies help when self grooming is no longer easy for your cat or dog. ID tags, microchips and collars are a great gift for any pet. Add items to engage your pet’s interest while at home, such as tall cat trees or scratching posts. Diffusers with cat and dog specific pheromones can help decrease stress and help create a calming atmosphere at home or during travels.
The gift of an annual physical exam with your veterinarians, routine dental care/dental cleaning, or products to help protect your pet from pesky parasites all can add years to your pet’s life.
Something To Wear
A new year can mean a new collar for your pet’s ID tags. It is a perfect time to update tags and microchip with correct personal information and health warnings (for example, “blind”, “needs meds”, etc.).
It is also the perfect time to switch to walking your dog with a harness instead of a collar. This can relieve the pressure on the neck of a pulling dog and help prevent damage to the throat and pressure on the trachea. Harnesses are a must for dogs with neck and spinal pain. There are anti-pull harnesses that help families while training a dog to walk on a leash. There are harnesses with handles that are made to aid pet parents who need help assisting their arthritic pets. Specialty harnesses are made for tripod pets.
Having extra quick release collars with ID tags attached is a great idea for cats that tend to lose their collars while outside on an adventure. (All cats should have a quick release collar in case they get caught on something like a fence, under a bed, bushes, etc.) Having an extra collar and identification will allow both cats and dogs to always have ID.
Outerwear can not only be fashionable but functional. Sweaters, coats, and t-shirts can add warmth to pets that tend to get cold quickly. Older pets have a harder time regulating their body temps and tend to get colder quicker. Clothing is made for both cats and dogs.
For the dogs that are outdoor adventurers, there are many products that are helpful. Fitted jackets and coats add warmth, protection, and some can even help keep your pet dry. During the hunting seasons, bright orange vests or coats can keep your dog safe on the trails. Life vests can add an extra security for pets playing in water or while out on a boat. Booties can add traction for arthritic pets, and protection for paws on a variety of surfaces. Dogs can help carry their own supplies with their own backpacks. A very good gift for pet parents is their own backpack that contains all your dog’s needs when out and about. Items in a designated pack should contain first aid kits for both you and your dog, poop bags, extra leashes, pet health/contact/identification information, food/treats for both you and your dog, maps, and extra water and water bowls.
Something To Learn
The gift of learning is an invaluable gift for both pets and people. Starting off the new year focusing on new behaviors or help with previous unwanted behavior problems is something that can benefit you and your pet for years to come. Training is not only for modifying unwanted behaviors or working on manners, but it can include new skills and tricks. Take time for doggie date. Choose a class with one of our recommended certified trainers or learn a new skill/sport at one of the local groups that offer agility, dock diving, scent games or TTouch. It helps increase the bond between you and your pet along with having fun and decreasing stress for both participants.
Something Donated In Your Pet's Name.
If your pet has everything they need, giving a gift in your pet’s name will spread the holiday cheer. Monetary donations and supplies are greatly appreciated during the holiday and all year long. Make arrangements to volunteer throughout the year at a local shelter or rescue organization. Join AHNA in collecting food for our AHNA Holiday Food Drive. Donated gifts give the chance to help homeless or pets in need in our community. It is a way to help saves lives and give animals a chance to find their forever homes.
Stay tuned for our December’s Events newsletter which will feature favorite products from AHNA staff and local trainers.