Your pet may be more naughty than nice at times, but they definitely deserve a gift this holiday season. Finding the perfect gift for your special four-legged friend can be difficult, so our team at LaGrange Veterinary Hospital wants to provide pointers that will help you choose holiday gifts that keep your pet safe and happy.

#1: Choose edible pet gifts wisely

Read all ingredient labels and the fine print, so you know exactly what your pet is eating. Ideally, the treat’s ingredient list should be short, and start with a high quality protein source. You should also ensure the treat is not high in fat, because a high-fat feast can trigger pancreatitis, a painful, potentially life-threatening condition, in pets. In addition, look for products that are sourced and made in reputable countries. 

#2: Choose gifts made for pets

Toys made for kids are not designed for chewing, and may contain substances that are toxic to pets. They also may have small parts, which could become detached, and your pet could accidentally ingest the part, causing a gastrointestinal obstruction.

#3: Choose gifts that fit your pet’s “chewsonality”

All dogs need to chew. Puppies chew to soothe their gums when they are teething and to explore their new world, while adult dogs chew to help handle anxiety, frustration, and boredom. Gifting your pet with a chew toy is the perfect way to keep them occupied, and to save your shoe collection from doggy drool. However, not all chewers are created equal, and knowing your pet’s chewing style is important when choosing an appropriate chew toy. Chew styles can typically be classified in the following categories:

  • Gentle chewer — These pets don’t tend to destroy their toys, preferring to gently nibble, lick, or suck the object. They usually prefer fabric toys they can take with them wherever they go.
  • Average chewer — These pets will destroy a fabric toy, but most other toys are safe in their possession. 
  • Power chewer — These pets are determined chewers who typically annihilate their toys. They need durable, firm rubber toys. Do not give power chewers squeaky toys, since they frequently will destroy the toy in an attempt to find the squeak’s source.

#4: Choose quality gifts for your pet

Ensure the gift you give your pet is a quality product. Factors to consider include:

  • Hardness — Toys that are too hard can damage your pet’s teeth or jaw. This is especially concerning when you have a puppy, kitten, or senior pet. You should be able to indent the toy when you use your thumbnail to press the surface.
  • Durability — The toy should be well constructed so your pet can’t tear the outer material apart and expose the inner stuffing. In addition, the toy shouldn’t have any small parts that could become detached,  potentially causing a gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Coating — The gift should not be coated or treated with flavorings that could cause digestive upset.
  • Washability — The gift should be dishwasher- or washing machine-proof, so you can periodically disinfect the toy.

#5: Choose a size-appropriate gift for your pet

Many pet toys have labels that can help you determine if the object is appropriate for your pet’s size and breed. In general, the toy should not be so small that your pet could choke or swallow the object, and not so large that your pet can’t chew on the toy.

#6: Choose gifts that can’t damage your pet’s mouth

Several common pet toys can damage your pet’s mouth and should be avoided, including:

  • Bones — Toys such as bones, cow hooves, and antlers are hard, and can crack a tooth.
  • Hard nylon — Hard plastic or nylon toys can also be too hard, and can injure your pet’s mouth.
  • Tennis balls — While these toys are safe to use when playing fetch, don’t allow your pet to chew on tennis balls unattended. The abrasive felt can wear down their tooth enamel, exposing the tooth root and pulp. In addition, your pet can ingest the small pieces, if they tear the ball apart.

#7: Choose interactive gifts for your pet

Your pet enjoys playing with you, and the interaction provides good mental and physical stimulation for your pet. Interactive toys that you and your pet can enjoy include:

  • Wand-style toys — Cats especially love chasing, stalking, and attacking wand toys. 
  • Laser pointers — Pets enjoy chasing that small red dot around, but you may need to intersperse the play with something they can actually capture, to prevent frustration.
  • Rope toys — Playing tug of war is a great way to interact with your pet. However, never allow your pet to play with the rope toy unattended, and throw the toy away if the rope starts to unravel. The pieces could be ingested, causing a linear foreign body gastrointestinal obstruction. 

Hopefully, these pointers will help you find the perfect present for your precious pet. But, if your pet’s holiday presents cause them problems, contact our team at LaGrange Veterinary Hospital, so we can get them back to the holiday festivities.