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For the love of you pet: Pet gift giving guide

By John Beck
Nov. 29, 2012 at 5:29 a.m.


Do you have any good suggestions as to what I could get my dogs for Christmas?

Summer and fall seem to have come and gone in a hurry. The holidays are here, and we'll be in 2013 before you know it. Holidays are usually a lot of fun for the whole family, including your pets.

When it comes to pets, the final holiday of the year is often the most celebrated. Christmas brings a time for new toys and togetherness. A lot of people take extra time off around the holidays, which provides the best gift you could possibly give your pet: one on one time. The majority of pet owners in the United States not only get their pets presents at Christmastime but also include them in the family photo, hang a stocking or mention them (sign for them) on their holiday cards. When picking presents for your pets, consider things they may need over items they may want. Consider getting them a new crate or bed if the old one isn't in the best condition. Veterinary care like dental cleaning or a year's worth of heartworm and flea preventative could be a good investment. These things may not bring extreme joy to your pet like a giant rawhide bone and bouncy ball would but are more important to your pet's overall well-being. If you do opt for the more fun Christmas gifts, there are a lot of great options. When choosing a rawhide or bone type of treat, keep your pet's size into consideration. You do not want to give a 10-pound dog a bone that is bigger and weighs more than the dog does. You want to pick one that is small enough for your dog to carry fit its mouth around when carrying the toy but not to big that the dog cannot hold the entire bone its mouth. I often recommend continual monitoring and possibly taking the chew away once the dog is able to chew on it like a piece of gum. Sometimes pets are tempted to try to swallow it whole at this point, which can cause choking and vomiting problems. Stuffed-squeaky toys can be very cute until all the stuffing is pulled from them and the squeaker has gone AWOL. If your dog likes these types of toys, they need to be taken away when they go from play time to destruction time. The stuffing can cause an obstruction in the digestive tract if a lot of it is swallowed. The toys that you stuff with treats, which will only come out with some coercing from your pet, serve two purposes. They give your pet a game to play, which is physically interactive, and a treat for doing so. This can help with pets that are trying to watch their weight by initiating activity and limiting immediate access to treats.

Please keep in mind that a lot of bones, treats, human foods, etc. are high in fat and should be limited in the amount that is given to your pet at one time. Too many treats too often can cause a wide range of symptoms, from severe vomiting and diarrhea to loss of appetite. Make sure human food is appropriately monitored around you animals while guests are over. Those cute, begging eyes can be very tempting.

We wish your entire family a wonderful holiday season that is safe and enjoyable.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at drjohnbeck@hotmail.com.

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