December 18, 2008
Sure Santa Claus is coming to town with gifts for little Sammy
and Sue, but what about your pet? If your pet has been good this
year it is time to reward them with a holiday present.
"Pet stores sell all kinds of holiday presents for our animals,"
states Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical assistant professor and director
of general surgery Services at the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "However, not all
those presents are good choices for your pet."
Added holiday pounds are not just a worry for us; our pets can
be at risk as well. Dr. Stickney recommends keeping a few things in
mind if you are planning on purchasing edible presents for your
"Too many sweets can make pets sick," notes Stickney. "It is
also important to factor in the added calories from the treats so
overfeeding can be avoided."
If you are planning on buying your pet an edible chew toy,
Stickney recommends getting them one that will soften as they chew
it such as rawhide. Things such as pig's feet and horse hoofs do
not soften, and can crack a dog's teeth.
In terms of toys, Stickney has a few suggestions when it comes
to what to get your pet.
"For dogs, don't get them a toy that resembles anything they are
not allowed to chew on. A toy shoe or newspaper could be confusing
and give the animal the wrong idea about what is or is not ok for
them to chew on," explains Stickney.
Also, make sure the toy you get the dog is sturdy.
"Don't get your pet anything they could shred or destroy, they
might eat part of it which can potentially cause gastrointestinal
obstructions," comments Stickney. "Make sure to get a toy that is
appropriate for the breed and age of your dog. There is a great
rubber dog toy called a Kong. These rubber toys have a hole in the
center that can be filled with a treat which the dog works to get,
which is both fun and stimulating for the animal. Kong's are a
great toy idea for any dog because they are virtually
indestructible, come in various sizes, and provide hours of
entertainment for your pet."
Stickney also recommends avoiding toys that encourage tug of war
games. Never encourage your dog to resist giving you things they
have in their mouths.
"When it comes to buying gifts for cats, they will like anything
that crinkles or moves unexpectedly," states Stickney. "Beware of
things that have strings they can swallow or bells they might choke
If you give your pet a toy that requires interaction on your
part, such as cat "fishing" poles that have long strings, in which
your cat can become entangled, make sure the toy is put away when
you are not playing with your pet.
"Birds and Ferrets like anything new and novel," comments
Stickney. "Just know that birds will ultimately destroy anything
that is put in their cages, and ferrets often swallow things so
make sure what you give them is strong enough to resist being
pulled apart or chewed up."
If your pet is of the scaly nature, they may not appreciate
"Snakes and lizards won't really notice if they get a present,"
notes Stickney. "These animals like stability in their
environments, so adding something new may not excite them as it
would other pets."
No matter what kind of pets you have on your list make sure you
get them safe and appropriate gifts this holiday season.
About Pet Talk
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
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