Last week I discussed holiday gift options for new puppy or dog owners. For those of you who like buying gifts for the dogs themselves, let’s discuss some stocking stuffers and under-the-tree gift options for fabulous pooches.
1. The Gift of Comfort
Although I have only two dogs, there are seven dog beds in our house. I like my dogs to have plenty of options for comfy places to rest, and with Mokie having some early-stage mild arthritis and Cuba being a giant breed with still-developing joints, I believe that beds provide health benefits as well as critical support.
With hundreds of options on the market, it can be tricky to find the right bed. Here’s an article on how to select the perfect bed for your dog.
2. The Gift of Warmth and Safety
Walking in a winter wonderland sounds idyllic when it’s sung by Elvis Presley or Dean Martin, but I wonder how often these fellas actually did so. Having the right gear for cold-weather walking will help keep your dog safe and warm. (Well talk more about winter gear for pet owners next week.)
I find that dogs generally prefer wearing horse-blanket-style coats with Velcro closures at the chest and under the rib cage to wearing ones with holes cut for their legs. Coats are always a great option for short-coated breeds, but even long-coated breeds may benefit from a reflective, lightweight jacket. Winter means shorter days and more walking in the dark, which makes it difficult for drivers to see dog/handler teams. You can also purchase LED collar tags and reflective leashes to make your dog more visible at night.
Ice and snow can cut open your dogs tender foot pads, while salts used to de-ice roads and sidewalks often contain caustic chemicals that can actually burn your dogs pads or later be ingested when he cleans his paws, causing tummy trouble. Paw waxes like Musher’s Secret can help keep your dog safe and comfortable in icy settings. Serious hikers may want to consider booties, which come in disposable, reusable versions as well as more expensive but also better-protecting options like these ones from Ruff Wear.
3. The Gift of Play
Dogs, like children, enjoy waking on Christmas morning to find presents under the tree. To get the most bang for your shopping buck, choose toys that appeal to your dog’s play style. I find that even dogs whose owners say they “don’t like to play often just haven’t been introduced to the right toy yet.
Your dog may not like to fetch or play tug (both of which can and should be taught!), but he may enjoy the mental challenge of solving a Nina Ottosson interactive puzzle toy, or relaxing while cleaning out a well-stuffed Kong. Between squeaky toys, tug toys, toys with lots of stuffing, toys with no stuffing, Kongs, puzzles, flirt poles, and rope toys, there is something to brighten nearly every dogs holiday season!
If you aren’t sure how to select toys? Many trainers offer sessions specifically on teaching your dog how to play and exposing him to a variety of toys to see what he likes best. This is a popular service for my clients, especially around this time of year, when people want to try before they buy.
4. The Gift of Nom
Know where your treats come from. I like treats whose ingredients are both sourced and made in the U.S.A. If their labels don’t indicate the sources of the ingredients and manufacturer, they aren’t products for my pups!
Avoid grain-heavy products â€” I like treats to be mostly meat. If there are grains, I want them to be way down on the ingredient list. The first few ingredients should be actual meat, or meat meal with an identified protein source. If your dog has allergies, try to purchase treats with the same protein source (lamb, for example) that is found in his kibble or daily diet.
I also try to avoid treats with a lot of ingredients I cannot pronounce, which keeps a lot of harmful preservatives and artificial flavoring out of my dogs diets!
Be like Santa and keep those treats hidden away until Christmas Eve. You dont want to come home from work to find that your dog has destroyed all the Christmas stockings, trying to get at those special ZiwiPeak treats you purchased!
Stay tuned! Next week, well talk about more gift options for pet owners.