By Darla Shelden
During the busy holiday shopping season while searching for those perfect presents for those on your list, many people plan to have a gift or two under the tree for their four-legged friends and family members.
Pet owners don’t need to spend a bundle on gifts for their pets, according to Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University,
“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.”
One practical suggestion is the gift of good health. 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 gift idea for both you and your pet is the gift of time. Instead of another chew bone or pet toy, spend quality time with your furbaby every day. An extended play session with one of his old favorite toys can create some great bonding time as well as benefit you both with some extra exercise.
Microchipping your pet is a really important and affordable gift.
“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,” Geldt said. “If your pet already is chipped, make sure the contact information on file is current, especially your phone number and address.”
Spaying or neutering your pet helps keep animals out of shelters, helps your pet live longer, and also, protects innocent lives from being euthanized.
Facilities such as the Central Oklahoma Humane Society offers low cost spaying and neutering for pets. For more information call 405-947-7729.
Seasonal specialty treats can be enticing, but it is best to consider your pet’s health and 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.”
Another healthy gift for your fur baby is a massage. There are pet massage therapists that can do the job, or pamper your cat or dog with a 15-minute rub-down session that you do yourself. Massage your pet up and down his back and sides Use long, gentle strokes up and down your pet’s back, and use three fingers to rub circles around his neck and legs. You’ll both feel better afterwards.
Ultimately, the best gift of all is lots of love, Geldt says. “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.”