Sunday, January 21, 2018

Christmas Gift Ideas to Make Your Pet's Howl-iday Meow-y and Bright


                        'Tis the season for giving so I thought I would ”prescribe" some great Christmas gift ideas for pets. After 40 years of studying and owning Canis lupus familiaris (dogs) and Felis catus (cats), I would recommend the following holiday gifts for your four-legged family members.

                        For your dog or canines belonging to others, remember that ALL DOGS need to be on heartworm and flea control medications ALL YEAR ROUND---not just during the warmer months! The greatest gift of all is to keep any pet parasite-free! Check your supply of these items, then visit your veterinarian to stock up for the winter months. For friends and family, consider buying a gift certificate from their veterinarian so they may purchase these necessities at this time of year when excess budgets run tight.

                        Older dogs have a greater need for veterinary care and products, including orthopedic beds, geriatric vitamins, pain medications, veterinary fish oils and joint supplements. Ask your veterinarian to prescribe appropriate medications and supplements as stocking stuffers for the mature dogs on your gift-giving list. I know my senior working Border Collies would recommend a comfortably-cushioned dog bed or orthopedic mat.       

                        If you have ever been repulsed by your dog's "dragon breath," consider scheduling  a veterinary dental cleaning. These ultrasonic scalings are followed by instruction on how to maintain your dog's clean, fresh "Hollywood Smile." Your veterinary professional will  teach you how to brush your dog's teeth, and can assist in choosing appropriate chew toys, toothbrushes, pet pastes, dental wipes and tartar control treats to put under the Christmas tree.

                        While I am certain new chew toys are on every dog's wish list, making the correct and SAFE choice in this gift category can prove to be challenging for dog owners. As a participant in more intestinal foreign body retrieval surgeries for pets than I care to admit to, I can attest to this fact. Please do not put your pet at risk for a life-threatening intestinal blockage.  Ask your veterinarian to recommend chew toys specifically for your pet to avoid spending New Year's Eve at the pet emergency hospital.

                        Just as we like to "rock" new clothes over the holidays, so does your dog. Why not consider replacing that old, smelly dog collar and leash with a new, stylish harness and matching lead. Harnesses are more comfortable and kinder to your pet's airways, especially if yours is a short-muzzled dog breed. Small and short-haired dogs would also be most appreciative of an insulated, well-fitting coat at this time of year.

                        Finally, for human AND canine family members, consider pampering your dog by purchasing veterinary gift certificates for professional services like pedicures, ear cleanings, grooming, luxury boarding and entertaining day care.

                        What about our feline family members? Their wish list is similar to dog's and they, too, could benefit from a veterinary gift certificate. But, have you considered protecting your Christmas tree from your Felis catus by providing it with its own "Cat Tree?" The best thing about this gift is it can be inexpensively homemade.

                        The purpose of cat trees is to mimic the outdoors by allowing felines to "go vertical." Veterinary research has proven that many cat behavioral and health problems may be prevented through indoor "environmental enrichment." Consider helping your cat "go horizontal" as well. And by that, I mean build a skyline or "cat walk" along a ceiling, with a "cat ladder" to approach it, that is adorned with safe, strategically placed cat toys.

                        Along these same lines, note that the very best cat entertainment is generally provided by items that are already in your home. Think crumpled holiday wrapping paper, bows, gift bags and boxes to play and hide in. BUT, please (yes, I am begging) be mindful of the danger associated with cats swallowing decorative ribbon. Linear or string-like items are ALWAYS a "no-no" in any cat's environment any time of the year!

                        In addition, if like me, you do not enjoy stepping out of bed to have your toes meet up with a gross and disgusting hairball or pile of vomit, give your cat the gift of a fresh tube of cat laxative. Then, actually commit to using it regularly! This is really a gift to yourself...

                         Thank you for always making your pet's Christmas, and mine, "Meow-y and Bright" by celebrating the reason for the season with them!

By Dr. Bonnie Jones
 Dr. Bonnie Jones practices at Delphos Animal Hospital with her husband, John H. Jones, DVM.  She is questioning if it is wise to put up the Christmas tree with new kitten, "Opie," joining the family.

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