Will you buy your dog a gift this holiday season?
OK, perhaps a better question is: How many gifts will you buy your dog?
But this year, do things differently. This year, make those gifts work harder for longer and get better value, whilst increasing your dog’s enjoyment and improving their health. After all a ball that looks like Rudolf’s nose is amusing, but it’s just another ball to add to the others in his toy chest.
For those pet parents at a loss for inspiration, here are some healthy gift ideas that are fun, with an added dimension.
Brightening the Winter Blues
Winter. It’s a drag.
The days are short and nights long, which makes exercising your dog difficult. Lack of exercise means weight gain, which strains joints and predisposes to diabetes. Also, a bored dog is likely to be destructive or bark…In short, let’s look at gifts to keep your four-legger fit and active in the dark winter months.
Exercise is key to good mental and physical health. Whilst that old favorite, chasing sticks, gets the cardiovascular system going a treat, it’s also incredibly dangerous. Dogs can easily impale themselves on the end of a stick, or chew pieces of twig that when swallowed pierce the gut. But rather than be a kill joy (in more ways than one) give your dog the gift of safe play with a Safestix.
For the ball obsessed canine companion don’t let darkness put a stop to games of chase. The paw-fect present in a light-up ball. Imagine the fun as he chases the ghostly specter of a glowing orb arcing through the night air.
And if you’re worried about losing a black dog in the darkness, then a LED collar is the answer. Remember, being seen could save your dog’s life, and you don’t get much healthier than that. And if your inner diva is channeling a bejeweled Swarovski collar for Princess’s stocking, then give a gift that adds bling (and safety) with a collar light.
Of course walks in winter often leave your dog filthy dirty. Mud contains lots of bacteria, which left in contact with the skin can cause skin infections. For those time when your winter-wonder-dog needs a bath, spoil him with a top-notch natural shampoo. Oatmeal gently cleanses whilst moisturizing the skin, whilst Neem oil helps relieve itching and scratching. If you wouldn’t ordinarily spend big on shampoo, then consider it as a healthy gift idea for your dog this Christmas.
(Dog) Food for Thought
It’s that time of year when everyone is overindulging…so why not the dog? Stomach upsets and pancreatitis: That’s why not. With this in mind, by all means give treats but look for healthy ones.
With organic, gluten-free, additive-free, and all-natural products available there’s never been a better time to look for healthy dog treats. To get the ball rolling what about the satisfying crunch of goodness in sweet potato dog treats. Or for the confirmed carnivore there are Blue Buffalo chicken training treats.
The trick with treats is to make them just that – an occasional indulgence as a reward. In fact, come to think of it, use them as a training reward. This gives your dog a double whammy because they’ll drink-up the lovely one-to-one attention that reward-based training offers, meaning two treats for the price of one.
Of course there’s a real concern over the safety of some treats. To minimize the risk of Fanconi syndrome and kidney failure from eating contaminated treats, look for products with ingredients sourced and made in the US. Read the label and look for recognizable components such as pure beef meat or chicken, or freeze-dried vegetables; rather than highly processed products with added flavorings and colors.
But good health isn’t just about what your dog eats, but how they eat it. The greedy chow hound who inhales their food stands a greater chance of swallowing a belly full of air. This is one of the risk factors for the life-threatening condition bloat (also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus or GDV). Slowing down your dog’s dining habits will do him a big favor.
To this end for a healthy gift he’ll use every day, how about investing in a slow feeder dish? These come in a variety of sizes to suit different breeds, and are designed to prevent the dog shoveling food into his mouth like a plough gathers snow.
Indeed, perhaps it’s time to start rethinking how you feed, so that feeding time becomes a source of mental stimulation for the dog. This is paw-ticularly important for overweight dogs that are turning over a new leaf in the New Year (all they don’t know it yet) and going on a diet.
Now is a great time to get your dog a feeding toy that makes him problem-solve to get supper. Again, dog toy manufacturers have twigged the importance of stimulating natural hunting behavior, and thankfully there is a large selection of puzzle feeders to choose from.
Some favorites include the Kong wobbler kibble dispenser. This does what it says on the label and means the dog has to bat it around with a paw in order to knock their kibble out. A variation on a theme is the Buster Cube, with flat sides which mean the dog works that bit harder.
Don’t despair of use a puzzle feeder if your dog has wet food, as the original and best Kong remains invaluable for amusing bored dogs. These near indestructible chew toys are designed to be stuffed with food which the dog then licks out. Indeed, a top tip is to stuff the Kong with wet-food laced with tasty treats and freeze it overnight. Give the frozen Kong to your dog during the celebration meal and it should keep him totally transfixed, allowing your guests to eat dinner in peace.
Treats for you Too
What makes your dog happy makes you happy, and a healthy gift doesn’t have to be entirely dog-centric. For the keen runners amongst you, how about popping a hand’s free running leash into his stocking, so you can both hit the road in the New Year.
Or if laughter is your medicine, knock yourself out with the Furbo treat tossing camera toy. With a link to your smartphone this device allows you to toss treats remotely to your dog, and catch him on camera in the process. Talk about having your cake and eat it, this really takes the (dog) biscuit!
Happy Holidays everyone, both two and four-legged!