Holiday Gift Giving Tips For Pets

The holidays are here and it’s time to eat great food, spend time with friends and family, and find those perfect presents. If you are searching for a gift for a dog or cat, or a pet owner, here are a few gift-giving tips, along with some pitfalls to avoid.

gifts for petsFor the doggie in your life, consider a new interactive gift that will keep boredom at bay. There are many different types of puzzle toys including special feeder bowls, hide-and-seek squeaky toys, and treat dispensing balls that will challenge your hound and provide a reward. These toys can be especially helpful for anxiety-prone dogs during a stressful holiday season.

If cats are on your shopping list, you’ll be pleased to know that toys for our favorite felines get better all the time. Laser pointers, interactive toys, and even robotic bugs and mice are all available for your kitty. Overweight cats can especially benefit from toys like these that encourage movement. If your cat tends to be stressed by holiday travel or houseguests, you can improve the situation with a cat condo for him or her to hide in. Pheromone sprays, such as Feliway, can also provide a sense of calmness during those stressful periods and are available in diffuser, spray, or even individual wipe form. A replacement scratching post for your cat will be a welcome present. Many cats prefer horizontal or vertical surfaces to scratch and some posts have both. Sprinkle the post with catnip for an added bonus!

Another creative gift idea is to replace grooming tools that may have gotten worn or dull. Over time, dull nail trimmers do not clip neatly and can cause discomfort for your pet. Shedding blades or undercoat rakes should be replaced if they are not working well to remove fur, or if you see broken teeth or rust. A new set of nail trimmers and a grooming glove or shedding blade will have your pet looking his or her best.

Every animal deserves a comfortable place to sleep and this could be the year to replace or upgrade your dog or cat bed. Older dogs in particular can benefit from a thick orthopedic style bed, whereas cats may prefer a covered bed where they can hide.

One of the best gifts you can give your companion animal is the gift of good health. If you have missed the opportunity to take your pet into the veterinarian this year, schedule a wellness visit. You’ll have the chance to address any health concerns and also evaluate your pet’s dental health, which is easily overlooked. A new pet toothbrush kit with enzymatic toothpaste is a terrific stocking stuffer and a better option than rawhides or antlers.

There are also a few gifts that you should avoid this holiday season. Most importantly, do not give a dog or cat as a gift. More often than not, the recipient isn’t expecting to have an animal and may be unprepared for the amount of time, dedication, and money a pet requires. A better idea is to give a gift card that can be used for an adoption fee at a local rescue group, or even give a donation in the recipient’s name to an animal-related cause. Other common gift mistakes include buying toys with ribbons, strings, or very small parts that can be ingested. Use caution with holiday treats as well. Double check labels for grapes, raisins, currants, chocolate, or caffeine, which are all toxic to pets. Offering toys and treats like these can result in a costly veterinary visit and emergency surgery.

By following these recommendations, you can be sure to have a special holiday season with your furry friend!

Originally published December 2018 in the Herald Citizen.

Carolyn Ives, DVM

Dr. Carolyn Ives is a veterinarian with LakeCross Veterinary in Huntersville. The vets in the big yellow house have been treating pets like family for 20 years. For more information, call 704-948-6300.