Pets can Celebrate the Holidays Too

Pet Tales
by Barry B. Burtis D.V.M.

Pets Can Celebrate the Holidays Too

Pet owners truly enjoy sharing many aspects of their life with their pet. The Christmas holiday season now beginning has much that can be shared with our pets. Such sharing will increase our enjoyment of these times. I also believe these activities are enjoyed by our pets.

Most pets like being with their people. If you are going to be home for the holidays, build in some quality time to spend with your pet. It will be good for both of you. A few extra walks or longer walks than usual with your dog will likely be well received and will help you burn off some of those extra calories often consumed at this time of year. It's a great time of year to enjoy a brisk walk, and appreciate the winter landscape. It's also probably the best time of year to walk your dog. No longer does a dog have to worry about heat stroke with exercise. There will be no fleas, ticks or other parasites lurking along the path waiting to hop aboard your pet. For the many dogs who suffer from inhalant allergies, the cold outside air will never be more allergen-free. Dogs don't have to worry about catching a cold when out for a walk and are usually quite unaffected by even freezing temperatures. If they do seem bothered by the sudden change in temperature when they leave the house, find them a jacket or coat to make them more comfortable.

On just about everyone's holiday calendar there will be a special meal or a party where there will be some exciting food or snacks for guests to enjoy. It's quite natural for us to want to share the pleasure of such eating events with a pet. There are not many pets, either, who can pass up an opportunity to sample some new taste delights. It's quite possible to do this without risking upset stomachs, nausea or worse for our pets. You just have to be careful about the kind and quantity of treats they are offered. This will likely be very similar to eating guidelines that should be in effect, for ourselves, at such times.

If you and your pet are hosting a party, why not consider placing a little bowl of the treats your pet normally enjoys alongside the peanuts or pretzels out for your guests. Perhaps a little card should explain this snack is for four-legged guests only!  It's my experience that visitors really enjoy offering a treat to the pet in the home and what could be better than a proven favourite. Both dogs and cats are likely to enjoy a little piece of the Christmas turkey. Of course, it should be well cooked meat only, no bones or fat or skin and the portion served must be consistent with the size of the pet and its ability to handle a small change in diet. Vegetables, raw or cooked, are quite safe and will likely prove very exciting to a pet. Cheese is likely to be well received by both dogs and cats. Many cats love shrimp or other raw or cooked fish.

Shopping for the perfect gift and the giving of gifts to family and friends is certainly something most of us do, at this time of year. It's another time for our pets to be included. It can really be fun and a great change of pace to take a break from the sometimes stressful shopping for people and find a gift for the pet(s) on our shopping list. Visit a pet store and be amazed at the tremendous array of possible presents for pets.

It's up to you to decide whether to go practical, with beds or brushes or bowls or go pleasure with toys and food treats. I guarantee you'll have a great selection whatever you decide. My gift suggestions this year combine practical with pleasure. An abstract from a recently conducted nutritional research study reported some interesting preliminary results. This study found that playing with your cat for 10 minutes every day was just as effective as dieting in achieving weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight for your pet. That is a very interesting finding. Now all you have to do is come up with a way to play with your cat. It may be anything from mechanical mice to chase to laser pointers that create beams of light to catch. However, the same study referred to, found the most effective way to encourage a cat to play was a fishing pole type toy - the kind that has some sort of fluffy, enticing lure at the end of the line for a cat to box, bat or stalk. So there you have it. Buy a toy that lets you have fun playing with your cat, bringing it great pleasure and helping control its waistline all at the same time.

To continue this theme for dogs I recommend some sort of healthy chew toy for dogs. Most dogs really go for chewing, they can spend hours in this activity. When you select the appropriate chew toy, you ensure they won't be so likely to gnaw on bones or other dangerous materials. You can also get chew things that promote healthy teeth and gums.

If you have any questions or comments about celebrating the holiday season with your pet, please join me and my guests on Pet Tales Live, a phone-in television program on Cogeco Community Channel 23 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 16th.