It’s December – a month where we are constantly reminded about giving – to friends, colleagues, ourselves (a bit), and most certainly, our furred friends. While dogs and cats do not keep calendars, they certainly do appreciate love and attention. Remember to pamper your pets and give a little to those in need, too. Below are a few suggestions for pet holiday cheer.
The Gift of Health
There is no better gift than that of health. For your own pets, be certain that they have an annual examination with their veterinarian. This is also true of indoor housecats. Just because they are indoors does not mean that they do not develop health issues as they age, especially dental disease. If your veterinarian has suggested a full dental cleaning for your pet, the winter months are an excellent time to have this performed. Your pup or kitten will appreciate having pearly white teeth – and you will like that their breath is improved. Consider a gift certificate to a veterinarian for a friend in need. During difficult times helping keep a friend’s best friend healthy can be one of the greatest gifts of all.
Treats are great, but how about ones that may help reduce tartar a bit? Certain rawhides and other treats, such as CET Dental Chews, can help improve dental health and your dog’s breath! CET makes cat dental treats, too! Please avoid hooves, antlers, and real bones or other very hard substances, as they can crack teeth!
Toys that Stimulate the Brain
Bored pets tend to become overweight and may even have a shorter lifespan. When looking for toys, consider ones that make your pet think a bit. Puzzle games where they have to move pieces in order to find a treat are an excellent idea. Others can include toys that come apart piece by piece, but can be reassembled by you.
Toys for Exercise
Cats can be famously sedentary, so give them stimulation! A recent toy that I came across is called a Ripple Rug. It has holes and allows cats to burrow and play hide and seek. Busy Buddies for both dogs and cats are an excellent way to make your pet work for their food. It has to be pushed around and manipulated in order to slowly release kibble-type foods. Cat toys which wiggle and move can be quite stimulating, too.
A Spa Day
Who doesn’t like a good pedicure? Remember to have your pet’s nails trimmed. When nails are too long, they can affect walking, causing pain and arthritis. In cases where the nails are severely long, they can even curl around and grow into their paw pads! This is also a great time for a good grooming. One must look their best at the family holiday party.
A New Coat and Boots
It’s winter! Many dogs are not well-suited for our environs and would be delighted to have some new threads. Be certain that the garment is a good fit. If your dog has sensitive feet and walks outside in the snow, try boots. The ones that slip over the feet and have a velcro strap are usually best.
A Park Day with the Pup
Plan a day to go to a park that is a bit out of your regular routine. Dogs love to sniff and explore new territory. Suggestions can include Battery Kimble, Roosevelt Island, Rock Creek Park, and Anacostia Park in DC, Calvert Cliffs State Park, Fort Washington, and Annapolis in Maryland, and Mason Neck State Park, Prince William Forest Park, and Great Falls in Virginia. Try something new!
A New Bed
If you have an older pup or cat, how about a therapy bed? A number of beds are on the market which provide cushioned support and warmth. Old joints appreciate not being on hard surfaces and the warmth can sooth many aches from arthritis.
Remember Pets in Need
Give an annual donation to your local animal rescue organization. We work with and support the Humane Rescue Alliance ( which runs the District’s Animal Shelter) and City Dogs /City Kitties Rescue, both great organizations. They could always use financial support and toys and supplies for the animals in their charge. Before you donate supplies, please call and check to see what is needed.
Quick note: products mentioned above are only suggestions – we don’t make specific endorsements!
Have a safe and happy holiday season from all of our families to you and yours.
Dan Teich, DVM, with contributions from his mom, Edna. Dr. Teich is the medical director for District Veterinary Hospitals in Eastern Market and Brookland.