Thoughtful Christmas gifts for the family pets

STILLWATER – When you are making your list and checking it twice, there is a good chance you have not only your family’s names on there, but the names of your pets, too. Pets are very much a part of the family and many people plan to have a gift or two under the tree for their four-legged friends.

Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University, said pet owners do not need to spend a bundle on gifts for their pets. “Some pet owners may enjoy buying pricey items such as gourmet treats and fancy collars, but there are much more affordable gifts your pet will enjoy just as much,” Giedt said. “When thinking about what to buy your furry friend, think more along the lines of practical gifts that will help ensure your pet lives a long, healthy life.”

The gift of good health is a great choice for a pet. A trip to the veterinarian may not sound like a fun gift, but that routine checkup could spot a potential health problem before it becomes serious.

Another great gift idea for your pet is the gift of time. Spend quality time with your pet every day. Instead of buying a new pet toy, give Fido an extended play session with one of his old favorite toys. In turn, your pet will get some extra exercise, which is a gift of better health, for both you and your pet.

Giedt suggests microchipping your pet if you have not done so already.

“This is a quick, inexpensive way to make sure you are reunited with your pet in the event the pet ever gets lost or stolen,” she said. “If your pet already is chipped, make sure the contact information on file is current, especially your phone number and address.”

All of those specialty treats in the pet store may be hard to resist, but it is best to keep your pet on its regular diet.

“Everyone likes to indulge during the holidays, and pet owners may think they’re being nice to their dog or cat by giving them these fancy treats or offering them some table scraps from the scrumptious meal they just ate,” Giedt said. “However, these foods may actually make your pet sick or will simply add extra pounds. If you truly want to indulge your pet, make or buy treats formulated specifically for them. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutrition so you can make the best food choices all year long.”

Ultimately, the best gift of all is lots of love. Showering your pet with affection and attention is a gift you can give throughout the year. “Our pets love us unconditionally, 365 days a year,” she said. “Pet owners can give the best gift of all by returning that love to their pets.”