It is Christmas time! It is also the season of Hanukkah, Kwanza, Pancha Ganapati, Saturnalia, Bodhi Day and others according to Wikipedia. And while none of these should be known as the time of spending, it is fun to have an excuse to buy things for those we love. Holiday shopping has gotten easier for me. I don’t know if it is because of shift work labor or trying to catch as many sales as possible, but Black Friday shopping starts the Monday before Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday shopping goes for the entire week.

So, in between solar LED lights for the back wall and room lights that think, I did look at some things for the pets. Sometimes the best gift for a pet is another pet. (Did I mention we have kittens?) Both dogs and cats may appreciate a playmate. Of course, this is not all. A dog that has killed cats before should not get a new kitten to “try.” Some pets want to be onlies. And sometimes the new owners do not want to be pet owners at all. Some may just want some time off or some (like someone with four labs!) cannot handle one more pet right now. So getting a pet for someone is a dangerous endeavor unless you know them really well.

Gifts for the pet can be driven by the needs of the owner. A parent on limited income might appreciate a more practical gift. The pet of a pre-teen in a decent income home may need something less practical to be appreciated. Practical gifts might include food, vaccinations, deworming, flea or heartworm medication or a subscription to a wellness plan or a vet box or even payment on their vet account. Cats could benefit from these items or cat litter. If you are getting a pet as a surprise for someone, think about the things they are going to need for it. Food, litter, cage, collar and leash may be impossible to find on Christmas day.

Food or treats may be a good gift. Make sure that the food is okay for the pet. A lot of dogs get a gastrointestinal upset when changing foods. Some pets have food allergies. Some treats have too much fat or other things that can cause pancreatitis. And just because it costs more, does not mean that it is safe. There is a whole market segment of premium priced generic poor quality foods. High cost or celebrity endorsement does not mean that the food is safe.

Toys should always be safe. With Isaac and Maggie, we would get squeeky toys from the infant section. They had safer squeakers and were tougher. Some toys might be safe for small dogs, but not for labs. Rawhide chews and pig ears are typically safe if they are made in the USA. That can sometimes be difficult to determine. “American made” might mean South American. Some rawhides even come with toothpaste embedded in them. I have never had a problem with a Nylabone gummibone. The hard ones (and hooves, antlers and other super chewer chews) can break teeth. (We do have bonding agents to fix these teeth.)

Some toys are designed to help boredom or prevent cognitive dysfunctions. Treats can be hidden under covers that must be removed. As the pet learns, they may have to slide the cover over a complex path before they get the treat. Flyers or fetch toys promote exercise. Our cats are getting food dishes that are shaped like mice. The cloth covers are colorful and simulate hunting. This helps them lose weight and not be bored to do destructive behavior. Although they are available on the internet, ours are cheaper. Kong toys are designed to be chewed and hide food. Cats may enjoy a spot of cat nip or a cat mint plant.

Clothes can be anything from a batman sweater to a rainproof reflective monogrammed fleece jacket. Some pets will wear clothes and others will not. My labs are getting new collars that light up. Before they go outside after dark, I snap a collar on them and then I know exactly where they are. If they didn’t chew everything, I could leave the collars on and switch them on and off, but until they grow out of this phase, the collars sit by the door. A new leash collar may include a martingale style. Made to tighten with a leash and loosen when the leash is off, we recommend them to all of our clients.

Pet gear could include an over the door shoe holder for their leashes and outdoor gear. I have seen dogs that are taught to return their toys to a toy box. A new leash or poop bags would be good for a pet walker. Most pets could benefit from a new bed or a cat perch. Our clinic cats got a cat tunnel, replaceable battery laser pointer, feather toys and a large exercise wheel. A super self cleaning robocat litter box would be a good gift for anyone without a budget.

Make sure that none of the edible toys go under the tree. Although that wrapping paper may keep you from knowing what is in it, dogs and cats can definitely smell through the wrapper.

In addition to the light up collars, my dogs are getting various Kong toys, rawhide bones and treats. Oh, and they got there favorite chew item: a six-pack of USB charging cords! The gunea pigs and birds will get some chew sticks and fresh peppers. On Christmas morning all the critters get a special breakfast that includes canned food. We actually do this at Guardian Animal every Christmas.

It is fun shopping for others, and although I will pick up some items from local businesses to support the businesses and therefore my community, I am basically done shopping and can enjoy the season. Whatever you celebrate this season, I hope you find safe presents that are on sale.