Gifts for Fido and Fluffy

All right, pet owners – confess. You fill a stocking up for your four legged friend, don’t you?  It may seem ridiculous to a few, but many of us who love our pets like to include them in all the family fun over the holidays.

Here are some gift ideas that go beyond a trip to the local pet store, and safety tips for making your pet’s holiday a treat-filled – and safe – one.

Dogs love experience
In the winter it can be harder to get out to take Fido for a walk.  But local dog walkers will be happy to pick up the slack.  If you’re filling someone else’s dog’s stocking, consider gift certificates for one in the recipient’s area.

Dog boots are also a great idea for keeping the salt out of sensitive toes. Muttlucks is the Canadian company which made headlines when president Marianne Betrand supplied NYPD dogs with the boots in the aftermath of 9/11.

Cats who live like kings
If you really want to splurge on your cat, try a cat condo – or even a cat sofa. If you can’t find one you like in your area, Dapper Pets offers a wide selection different colours.

Gourmet gifts
Puppy Love Gourmet Bakery in Calgary, Alberta, offers a wide range of healthy treats for dogs, cats, horses, and ferrets. They also sell mixes to whip up treats in your own kitchen – with or without the cookie cutters!

They have a low-carb line, and also offer gift baskets. Their website contains extensive product information and allows on-line order. They will ship across Canada and down to the US.

Gift for the tree
This gift isn’t something your pet will appreciate – but you will. It also can help keep them safe from swallowing something like tinsel. Contech Electronics has developed the StayAway. This device will keep pets away from the tree, or off counters. A motion sensor activates a warning sound and a brief, harmless spray of compressed air to keep your pet away.  Once your pet learns to recognize the warning sound, you can switch to “sound only” mode to conserve compressed air.

The Contech website will help you find a store near you that carries the product.

Safety tips
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind, whatever you choose for your pet, courtsey of the McLennan Group:

  • You don’t want to give dogs or cats any toys they can rip apart. They can swallow a piece and either choke on it or have trouble passing it. In some cases, surgery is needed to remove an object. As a result, hard toys, such as a plastic bone for a dog, are better than soft rubber toys.
  • Keep in mind the size and strength of the animal. A large dog such as a Rottweiler has more jaw power than a Yorkie, and can rip a toy more easily. Small balls, even if they’re hard and can’t be ripped, can sometimes slip down a large animal’s throat.
  • Remove the noise-making piece from any squeaky toys. The “squeaker” is quite small and it is easy to ingest if the toy breaks apart.
  • The toys you buy at the pet store are non-toxic. But if you’re using a homemade toy that isn’t intended for pet play, make sure it’s constructed of non-hazardous material.
  • The poinsettia plant, which is popular around holiday time, is very dangerous to cats and some small breeds of dogs. Its milky substance is toxic and can be fatal if ingested. Keep the plant out ot reach of pets.
  • Though not a toy, anti-freeze is also extremely toxic to pets. Don’t keep containers around the house, where a pet could chew through them.
  • While you may be tempted to give in when your dog or cat looks up at the dinner table with begging eyes, don’t get into the habit of feeding pets human food. They generally don’t digest it well and could develop problems with their kidneys or pancreas. If you want to give them a treat, try animal biscuits. After all, you don’t want to end up with, as the saying goes, one sick puppy.