It’s the holiday season, when animal lovers love to give pets gifts. But what’s appropriate and safe for our furry friends? First and foremost, keep eating and exercise habits as normal as possible and watch out for unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.
Costumes: Who can resist a pet costume for the holidays? Although many pets are willing to wear even the most outlandish outfit, we need to be mindful of comfort and safety, so be sure to check that costumes are comfortable and fit properly. Fancy collars or holiday sweaters can be good options.
Toys and treats: Look for indestructible toys without strings or ribbons. Dogs can swallow bits of toys. Cats may consume string, ribbon, yarn and small parts from their toys. Look for tough toys your dog can’t destroy such as Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy treats. For cats, a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or an interactive cat dancer provide safe fun.
Practical gifts: What about an ID tag with pet’s name and your phone and email address or a microchip? Perhaps a cozy pet bed or blanket for snoozing, or a warm sweater for chilly winter walks? Dog boots protect paws of all sizes from heat, cold, rain and snow.
Pets as gifts? Think carefully. Choosing a pet is a big decision. If you are looking for a pet, consider giving the gift of life by adopting from an animal shelter or reputable rescue. Want to give a pet to someone else? Most people prefer to choose their own pet. So, why not make an “adoption kit” with toys, a bed, collar, food, treats and a gift certificate for adoption fees at an animal shelter or rescue? Then, arrange to visit the shelter or rescue to find that best friend.
Charitable gifts: Donate to your favorite animal welfare nonprofit in your pet’s name. 4RFriends, PAWS (Pet Adoption & Wellness Services), Rotts of Friends and Yolo County SPCA are some nonprofits that serve our local community.
Finally, remember to shop at local pet stores. It’s fast, easy and supports our community.
Happy Tails: Back in July, Carol Allen couldn’t resist the charms of an adorable puppy, but she also knew she’d need help with training.
Carol writes, “I can’t say enough about the Front Street rescue. They made the adoption so easy, money-wise, that it really got us off to a good start. In other words, we could better afford all the necessities (including a crate) to bring her home as they paid for her to be spayed, chipped and offered us 50 percent off the adoption fee since we went through PetSmart.
“Our real savior has been Michael, at PetSmart, and his puppy training classes. He is terrific, as is his advice. I don’t know how Zoey passed the beginner class, but she did! She is a whippet-mix with lots of energy. So we have to keep her busy, otherwise she gets into trouble. So having a mentor to lean on has been huge.
“Now she is 8 months old and we are working on delayed gratification and heeling in the intermediate class. My son, Eric, and I attend every Sunday at 4 p.m. We’ve raised dogs before, but it’s easy to forget how much work is involved. And if you don’t do the work, you pay for it with problem behavior. So it’s totally worth the time and effort. She really is a love — all my students are crazy about her. And surprisingly, our cat has come to embrace the idea of an over-active companion.”
— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is published monthly.