The whole family should enjoy celebrating the holiday season, including your furry, feathered, or scaled friends. However, as you browse pet stores or search online, you might wonder what to give your pets this year to help them ring in the season. Below, you'll find a handful of creative holiday gift ideas to keep your pet healthy and happy.
Holiday Gift Ideas for Pets
1. Puzzle Feeders
Keeping food out in bowls throughout the day may cause dogs and cats to overeat and become overweight. Luckily, you can slow them down and make meals more fun by providing them with puzzle feeders. These devices hold food in various compartments and require animals to manipulate them in certain ways to release kibble. In addition to making meals last longer, this can provide pets with extra exercise, as they must work to solve puzzles before eating. Puzzle feeders hidden around the house give cats the chance to use their natural hunting and foraging skills, leaving you with a more interactive content cat. They also have the advantage of separating you from being the only source of food so your hungry kitty is more likely to search the house for nibbles at 4am rather than wake you up. Got a pet bird? Hiding food in paper boxes, dried pasta, or stuck into cork can provide them some fun mental stimulation and keep them active.
2. New Beds
If your pet has sensitive joints or arthritis, it might be difficult or painful for them to lie on the floor. Instead, a new bed can make your dogs and cats feel more comfortable while resting and taking naps. If your furry friend enjoys sleeping in warm areas, a heated bed can match their body temperature and ensure they remain cozy. On the other hand, if your pet likes to sleep in cooler spaces, an elevated bed with a steel frame can create a breezy effect that prevents the bedding from becoming too warm.
3. Interactive Toys
Most pets enjoy playtime and the opportunity to spend time with their owners. As such, giving your pets interactive toys for the holidays can help them get the most out of playtime, while also getting extra exercise to maintain a healthy weight. These toys may also provide mental stimulation to improve cognition and prevent boredom while you're away from home for the holidays. For cats, you might choose products that simulate the hunting experience by popping toy "prey" out of various compartments, prompting your feline to chase and pounce on them. For dogs, digging toys featuring fabric flaps under which you can hide their favorite toys and treats will let them have fun foraging and retrieving them.
4. The gift of good health!
We are an animal hospital, after all - the most important gift on our list is a checkup! We can catch your friend up on any needed preventive care and look for any minor ailments that may have creeped up over the past few months. Itchy or dry skin, slowing down, drinking more - all of these can be helped with the right diagnosis and a plan that fits your busy schedule.
Everyone raise a paw to happy holidays! Here are some easy ways to keep the furry and feathered family members safe.
#1 Keep the food out of reach
Nothing spoils a meal faster than the dog eating the roast, carving knife and all (yes, that's actually happened). Keep pets away from tempting holiday spreads to prevent everything from a minor bellyache to life-threatening pancreatitis.
Onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, the sweetener xylitol, and chocolate are all toxic to dogs and cats. If your pet gets a hold of food with any of these ingredients, call us and induce vomiting as quickly as possible.
#2 Decorate for pet success
Holiday decorations provide a variety of new smells and tastes for the curious dog, cat, or parrot. Block all access by your inquisitive friend for the safest holiday. Pitfalls include:
Christmas trees - can fall over if pets climb on them or run into them
Christmas tree lights - chewing on the cord can lead to electric shock
Christmas tree water - additives can be toxic if swallowed
Tinsel - cats can become obstructed if they swallow it
Candles - possible fire hazards, and burn risks if knocked over
Ornaments - fragile ornaments will break if knocked over and possibly cut paws and mouths
Decorative plants - lilies, amaryllis, mistletoe, and cedar are all toxic. For a complete list, look at the ASPCA Poison Control's toxic plants for dogs and cats.
#3 Be prepared for visitors and travel
Expecting guests, or a petsitter?
Make sure your pet is identified with a microchip and wearing their collars and tags when you're expecting visitors. That gives them the best chance of returning home if they accidentally get out during the commotion. Keep pets away from the exits while you are occupied collecting coats and belongings for your guests.
Boarding your pet?
Make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations, especially against kennel cough (bordetella) and the canine flu (H3N8 and H3N2 influenza). Also make sure they are protected against fleas and ticks so they don't bring home any unwanted guests.
Interstate and international travel require a health certificate from your veterinarian, usually within 10 days of travel. Check with your airline for any additional paperwork requirements. Be sure to pack sufficient supplies of food and medications, and bring your pet's medical records with you in case of emergency at your destination.
Pumpkins, costumes, and scary skeletons - it's October! Here are some tips so that both you and your pets can enjoy the holiday in style.
Photo credit: Mike McCune www.flickr.com
Pumpkins are for more than pie
Did you know that pets can enjoy eating pumpkin right along with you? It is a healthy addition to food for many pets. Dogs, cats, parrots, many reptiles, rabbits, and small mammals can all benefit from pumpkin.
August 15 was National Check the Chip Day, so this month we're writing to remind you about the best way to increase your chances of finding your pet if he or she ever gets lost.
What is a microchip, anyway?
Do microchips work?
Yes! A study of stray animals at animal shelters showed that microchipped dogs were more than twice as likely to be returned to their owners as dogs without chips. Cats with microchips were 21 times as likely to be returned to their owners as cats without chips! But even so, more than half of microchipped dogs and cats were never reunited with their owners because the contact information in the database was missing or out of date.
Is your pet’s microchip information up to date? Use the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup to check and see which company your pet’s chip is registered with – then contact the company and make sure they have your correct contact information. http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/
July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day. Every year, nearly 1000 home fires are started in the United States by a household pet. The most common cause is a dog or cat jumping up on a gas stove and turning the knob, igniting whatever is on the stove. One of our own clients suffered this tragedy a couple years ago when his basset hound jumped on the stove to get to a bag of kibble. The firefighters were able to resuscitate the basset, but another dog in the home died in the fire and the house was destroyed.
2. Protect the stove
Use the child-proofing knob covers or remove the knobs of gas stoves so that a pet can't accidentally turn the knob and start a fire. Also, make sure that there is nothing left on top of the stove that could burn should the burner accidentally light.
3. Beware of glass water bowls on wooden decks
It sounds crazy, but if the sunlight hits a wooden bowl in just the right way it can act like a magnifying glass, potentially setting fire to the wood underneath it. This also applies to any outdoor glass ornaments or mirrors that could focus the sun's rays. Use ceramic or stainless steel bowls instead.
When you're not home:
Keep young pets confined so they can't get into trouble and are easy to find in case of emergency.
Consider leaving pets in rooms close to the entrances/exits of the home so they're easy to rescue. Ideally, your pets should stay in a part of the home with 2 exits so that they are less likely to be trapped.
Since pets can't escape a burning home on their own, consider monitored smoke alarms so that a company can be alerted if the alarms go off, and the fire department dispatched even when you're not home.
Affix a pet window cling - firefighters must prioritize human lives, but they will usually save pets whenever possible. A window decal with a date and information about the number and type of pets can help rescue personnel be on the alert for your pet family.
Wellness - to keep your pet healthy for the next year:
Lastly, if the primary caregiver is not the one coming to the appointment, a written list of questions, diet, and medications is very helpful and avoids extra office visits for missed concerns. Be your furry friends' advocate and help us give your pet the care he or she deserves!
We love our birds, and want to give our pets the best food to keep them as healthy as possible. Here’s the bad news: there is no single diet on the market that you can scoop from a bag and be done. But don’t be discouraged. The good news is that there are great diets available for our birds, and it’s easy to supplement them with a variety of healthy foods that you have right in your own kitchen.
Why don’t we have a single perfect diet? That’s a great question - and the answer comes from our birds themselves. Our pet parrot species originate all over the world, and each adapted to their native habitats. So a wild cockatoo from Australia is eating a completely different variety of plants than an amazon from Brazil. Then, each individual bird’s nutritional needs change over time: a mature adult needs far fewer calories per day than a growing chick, and an egg-laying hen needs far more calcium than when she’s not reproducing. Lastly, think of how smart and social your bird is - they often form strong food preferences in the first months of their lives, and self preservation instincts can prevent them from trying new foods (think about those poisonous berries out in the wild - the birds that survive are the cautious ones who only eat what their flock-mates are eating).
Can’t birds just eat seeds? Nope. Seeds are high in fat and deficient in many vitamins. They’re pretty much the bird equivalent of eating at McDonald’s every day: delicious, but so not healthy.
So, what’s the recipe for success?
Parrots don’t need grit or cuttlebones. While many cockatiels will happily ingest small quantities and be perfectly fine, some individuals will swallow large pieces of cuttlebone or too much grit and obstruct their intestinal tract. Parrots hull their seeds before swallowing, so they don’t need grit to break down seeds like pigeons and doves do. That’s also the reason that fortified seed mixes aren’t as healthy as the marketing would have you believe - the added vitamins get left in the seed cup along with the hull.
Help - my bird only eats seeds! What do I do?
This plan applies to any new food - fresh or pellets - whether we’re starting with an all seed diet or just trying to add some variety to a more healthy diet.
Be patient and DON'T GIVE UP!
Parrots are naturally suspicious creatures, and it usually takes over 20 times of seeing a particular food before they will accept it.
Tips and tricks for seed addicts:
With lots of patience and persistence, your bird can learn to enjoy a variety of foods. Not only is a balanced diet the foundation for a healthy pet, but you'll get to have fun at mealtime with your feathered friend, too.
Photo credit Geek2Nurse, www.flickr.com
It goes without saying that your dog, cat, or other animal companions are not just pets, but family members and best friends! Pet owners will scour labels in order to find the healthiest food, and they’ll spend hours researching veterinary clinics to find the right one to deliver the quality care and treatment their pal deserves. Yet, according to the latest American Pet Products Association’s Pet Owners Survey, only 4% of dog owners and 1% of cat owners purchase a pet health insurance policy. We want you to keep in mind the benefits of pet insurance when you’re considering care and treatment for your furry loved one.
Just like a car crash or an unexpected fall, you never know when a pet medical emergency might strike. Choosing to purchase pet health insurance is a wise investment for the safety and well-being of your beloved family member. Unlike health insurance for humans, pet insurance allows you to obtain care from the veterinarian of your choosing, no matter the extent of your pet's health care needs.
While it’s recommended that you obtain pet insurance as soon as your pet becomes part of your family, you can also insure your pet years later. When purchasing insurance for your pet make sure to read the policy carefully, as many companies place breed-specific conditions on their coverage or exclude pre-existing conditions. Some companies will exclude a condition that occurred the previous year even while your pet was covered by their plan. Look for policy language that talks about your pet's lifetime, not the insurance period. There are also significant differences when it comes to coverage of wellness care, so be sure to review what is included in each plan. Most pet insurance policies reimburse up to 80% of costs after deductible, and many pet health insurance premiums can be paid in installments. The majority of insurance plans offer discounts for additional pets in the household. There are currently a dozen or so companies offering pet health insurance. Embrace, Nationwide, and Trupanion are the pet insurance industry leaders.
We believe that pet health insurance is most valuable when unexpected medical problems occur. Responsible pet owners will budget for their pet's annual wellness care, but an emergency can easily incur thousands of dollars in medical bills at a 24-hour facility. Pet health insurance will deliver the emotional peace of mind so that finances never dictate the decision between life and death for your pet in a medical emergency.