Regardless if theyâ€™ve been naughty or nice, many families include their pets on the Christmas shopping list. Gifts for pets can include special treats that can be purchased in a gift basket or as individual items resembling human food. Pets spend a considerable amount of time sleeping, so a gift of new bedding can be one theyâ€™ll enjoy often. Choices range from simple crate liners to luxurious beds with warming pads for chilly nights.
The selection of toys is endless, but for active pets, some are also challenging. Dog toys dispense treats when batted around, while others light up, talk, laugh or growl when they roll.
Cats favor toys that stimulate their inquisitive nature. Motion-activated toys like mice that move when kitty approaches provoke stalking skills. Laser pointers keep kitty on the move, while tunnels and tree houses and window perches give them places to hide or climb.
If you keep a pet outdoors, why not buy a few bales of straw to place around the doghouse as insulation against winter weather and put 4 to 6 inches of dry straw inside to help retain body heat.
Think safety first when bringing a tree into the house and bringing out decorations that tempt our furry friends. Water in the Christmas tree base may make them sick, and pine needles can puncture internal organs if eaten and are toxic to cats. Tinsel, ribbon, ornaments and bright lights are irresistible to some critters as playthings, but if ingested, they can cause a serious intestinal blockage.
Electrical cords from Christmas lights should be out of reach or taped to the floor if your pet tends to chew on them. If they wonâ€™t leave cords alone, apply Tabasco sauce or Bitter Apple (available at pet stores) on the cord. Itâ€™s not harmful and the taste should discourage chewing. Lighted candles can be a hazard to your pet and your home if knocked over, so make sure theyâ€™re out of reach. The same goes for poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, yew and chocolate, all of which are poisonous to both cats and dogs.
Families who have been considering getting a pet often do so at this time of year, but Christmas morning is the worst possible time to bring a new pet into the home. A pet that makes its first appearance as a gift under the tree is likely to be thought of by children as a disposable item rather than a living being that requires care and love. To symbolize the gift of a pet to come, you can wrap pet-related gifts, then bring the pet home to settle in and explore their new surroundings after the commotion of Christmas is over.
Pets are a lifetime commitment, lasting beyond the Christmas season, and the decision to adopt one should be well thought out. Dogs are pack-oriented, social beings that thrive on interaction with humans and the love of a family, but often a dog is consigned to living outdoors because the novelty of having a puppy has worn off or behavioral or housebreaking problems were not addressed.
Puppies must be housetrained, taught not to chew, play-bite, steal food, dig holes, growl or bark. They must be taught to come, walk on a leash, sit, stay and come. Lack of knowledge about the amount of work required to socialize and train a puppy is a main factor in young adult dogs being given up by owners within the first year of acquiring the animal.
If yours is a busy household and you donâ€™t have time to housebreak and obedience train a puppy, consider adopting an adult animal that will be more settled down and may already be housebroken.
The Medina County Animal Shelter and rescue groups have many homeless pets looking for their own home for the holidays â€” and for the rest of their lives.
Visit rescue groups to find pets
Find a perfect pet and save a life at:
Forgotten Animal Shelter: www.forgottenanimal
Medina County Shelter: www.co.medina.oh.us/
Save Ohio Strays: www.saveohiostrays.org
Barnosky can be reached at 330-725-4160, ext. 4075, via e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing The Gazette, 885 W. Liberty St., Medina, 44256.