In the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping, remember to pick up a few gifts for the pets in your household. This can be especially helpful to keep the dogs and cats occupied while everyone else is opening gifts, or while they are “locked away” during meals or while guests are visiting. Providing them with something new to keep their interest helps to keep them busy and out of trouble.
Here are some suggestions.
Delights for dogs:
• If your dog doesn't have a Kong toy yet, get one or two. If you have one, there are various styles — try a new one. Kongs are great, because you can do so much with them. You can stuff them with different kinds of treats or kibble. They can be frozen for later use. To start, put small treats in that will fall out easily once your dog gets the hang of that, and then you can try more difficult ideas. Try mixing some of your dog's regular kibble with some peanut butter, then smoosh it into the hole of the Kong. Cream cheese, spray cheese and oatmeal also work.
• Try some of the natural-type chew treats, such as bully sticks, smoked bones, antlers and the like. These are a longer-lasting chewy and edible treats for your dog, and most dogs like them. For smaller dogs, lamb ears, cow ears, etc., will also last a good bit.
• There are also treat-dispensing toys and puzzles for dogs. These are great because they stimulate your dog's mind and give them a way to entertain themselves and reward themselves. (My male bloodhound, Bo, loves his. He has several of them. The funny part is, Bo likes to make the treats fall out, but he doesn't care as much about eating the treats. The other dogs do like the treats, so they follow around behind him, eating the treats he dispenses to them.) You can use actual treats or some of their regular kibble. I will occasionally buy a small bag of a new pet food just to use in the treat toys. It's a good way to try out new foods.
• New plush toys are great, but they usually won't occupy your dog without your help. Plush toys can cost from a couple dollars on up to about the $20 mark for special extra-large ones. There are some great holiday-styled plush, and every dog should get one or two new ones for the holidays.
• This may be the time to buy your dog a new bed or crate pad. You can often get a good buy on one during the holiday sales.
• This could also be the year to get your dog new food and water dishes.
• Clothes/coats — this could be the time to buy your dog a new sweater, shirt or coat. Every dog should have at least one article of clothing, even if it is just your favorite football team's jersey.
• Collar/leash — why not get your dog a new collar and leash for the holiday photo? Make sure the collar fits correctly. You should only be able to place two fingers between the collar and the dog.
Remember, whenever you replace your dog's beds, toys, dishes, collars, leashes, etc., do not throw out the older ones. Donate the old ones to local rescues. Rescues never have enough toys, etc. They can always use donations. Also, rescues can use things like old comforters, blankets, towels, bath mats, rugs, etc.
Both House Pets and Millville Pet Stop collect for local rescues. Bed & Biscuit Boarding Kennels in Roxana also accepts donations for recues. If you need items picked up at your home, call me at (302) 542-5805, and I will come by and pick them up.
For felines: This is an industry that is finally starting to grow. It used to be just a small rack with a handful of items. Now there are tons of different types of toys for cats and kittens.
• Balls, tiny mice — these have always made cats happy.
• A new cat scratcher — whether just a new corrugated replacement or a new cat tree, these are always a hit with cats. Be sure to get fresh catnip to go with it. (I store my catnip in the fridge because, if I don't, the cats will find it and help themselves. It has never seemed to dull its attraction to cats.
• How about growing your own cat grass? Many cats love this.
• There are interactive cat toys, such as wands with feathers, boas or a toy at the end. This is great, because it gets you to interact with your cat.
• Laser lights — my male cat goes crazy for this. He knows where it is stored at home, and if I even go near that spot, it brings him running.
• Treats — there are lots of treats out there for cats.
• Maybe even try a new food for your cat.
If you haven't checked out the cat section of the local pet stores, do it soon. They have tons of new toys for cats. Stop by and pick up a few new toys for your cat.
For birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits and the like:
• Toys and treats. There are tons of toys out there and plenty of treats. Go buy a few toys and treats at the pet store. Then go home and make a few of your own. (A great project for the kids: let them make their pet a new toy for Christmas.) Also, go buy some fresh veggies and a few fruit treats for your pet from the grocery store. This is also a great time to stock up on fresh nuts in the shell for your large birds.
Just because a toy or treat is listed for one type of animal doesn't mean it can't be used for a different type. (For example: it may be sold as a rabbit toy, and you choose to use it for a hamster or a bird or guinea pig, etc.) The thing to remember is to buy your pet an age- and size-appropriate gift. Ask your pet store employees for the help and guidance. That is what they are there for.
Finally, shop local. Your small local pet stores (House Pets and Millville Pet Stop) need your support, especially this time of the year. They work hard, hiring and training their staff to better serve you, and they need your support — especially at this time of the year. They also work hard supporting the local community and the local rescues. Show them that you appreciate them by shopping with them.
Cheryl Loveland is a dog groomer, pet-sitter, dog trainer and fosterer for many unwanted animals. She does rescue work for all types of animals and has owned or fostered most types of domestic animals and many wild ones. She currently resides with two bloodhounds, which she has shown in conformation and is currently training her male bloodhound for search-and-rescue work. Also residing with her are a bichon frisée, two cats and two birds. She welcomes comments, questions and suggestions for future articles at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, she is not an expert: she offers her opinions and suggestions from her experience and research.