Selecting the proper holiday gift for your pet

Originally published in the Rolesville Buzz
December 2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas; toys in ev’ry store. But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door.

With the holidays fast approaching, everyone is scampering around to find that perfect gift for Mom, Dad, the kids and the grandparents. But don’t forget Fido. He is a very important member of the family. No matter how many socks he’s chewed, meals he’s stolen or floors he’s wet, he still loves you. And you know that you still love him.

Now, just what special gift will he be happy to receive? Remember, Fido isn’t materialistic. So bigger or more expensive is not always better. Dog toys should be fun, durable, and most of all, safe. However, those factors are completely dependent upon your dog’s size, activity level, and personal preference.

You should also consider the environment in which your dog spends his time. By considering the following, you should be able to make a wise decision in choosing among the vast treats, gifts and pet accessories for the holidays.

All dog toys should be appropriate for your dog’s current size. For example, balls should be large enough to carry, but not too small. Balls and other toys that are too small can easily be swallowed or become lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat. Avoid or alter any toys that aren’t “dog-proof” by removing ribbons, strings, eyes, or other parts that could be chewed and/or ingested.

Taylor has one frog that he loves to carry around with him at home. There are times he even sleeps with this big green frog that somehow has become the exception to the shredded pile of fluff. He, like many other dogs, likes to play rough with fluff-packed toys. If your dog likes to rip apart his or her toys, take note of any toy that contains a “squeaker” buried in its center. Your dog may feel that he must find and destroy the squeak source and could ingest it, in which case squeaking objects should be “supervision only” toys.

There are several stuffing-free dog toys that have come out; however, they are not indestructible, but some are sturdier than others. Soft toys should be machine washable.

You want to make sure that you avoid rawhide and any toys made in China. I do not recommend using rawhides or rawhide-type toys. Rawhides soften when chewed and can become stuck in a dog’s throat.

Instead, very hard rubber dog toys are great for high-energy pets. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and are fun for chewing and for carrying around. Rope toys are always big hits with dogs that like to play fetch. Tennis balls make great dog toys, but keep an eye out for any that could be chewed through, and discard them immediately if they become cracked.

If you dog gets bored quickly, dog toys that can be filled with broken-up dog treats or, even better, a mixture of broken-up treats and peanut butter can be challenging. The rightsized dog treat toy can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours. Only by chewing diligently can your dog access the treats, and then only in small bits – very rewarding! Double-check with your veterinarian about whether you should give peanut butter to your dog.

It’s good to rotate your dog’s toys weekly by making only four or five toys available at a time. And it always good to provide toys that offer a variety of uses – at least one toy to carry, one to “kill,” one to roll and one to “baby.” Hide-and-Seek is also a fun game for dogs to play. “Found” toys are often much more attractive than a toy that is blatantly introduced. Making an interactive game out of finding toys or treats is a good rainy-day activity for your dog, using up energy without the need for a lot of space.

Interactive play is very important for your dog because he needs active “people time.” By focusing on a specific task, like repeatedly returning a ball or playing hide-and-seek with treats or toys, your dog can expel pentup mental and physical energy in a limited amount of time and space. This greatly reduces stress due to confinement, isolation and/or boredom. For young, high-energy and untrained dogs, interactive play also offers an opportunity for socialization and helps them learn about appropriate and inappropriate behavior with people and with other animals, like jumping up or being mouthy.

A great toy and treat in one are Golden Chews. Golden Chews are elk antlers, which are 100 percent natural, splinter resistant, mineral packed and long lasting treats for your pet. There tasty treats are harvested in the USA and are guaranteed to be fresh. Whether you get your pet a split, with the marrow easily accessible, or a whole, where they will have to work for it, Fido will definitely love you and enjoy the many hours he spends playing and chewing on his new Golden Chew.