More presents for your favourite pet.
Maybe they can’t write to Santa, but most pets get presents under the tree every year. And just like the rest of us, they often get fattening treats, ill-fitting sweaters and toys that will be ignored by Boxing Day.
For those of you who haven’t wrapped up the Christmas shopping yet, here are a few useful gift ideas for your own illiterate, four-footed family members.
Water fountains are number one on the list for the hordes of cats that love drinking from the faucet. Get one that shoots the water in a visible stream, rather than having it trickle down the surface. Ranging in price from about $35 to $100, fountains provide a fun way to get kitties drinking more water, making for healthier cats and lower vet bills.
Home-cooking for pets is getting a lot of attention these days and it can be tricky to provide properly balanced diets, particularly if health issues create special nutritional needs. Since our pets tend to eat the same thing every day, any imbalances in their diets are magnified and can result in serious illness.
One way to be sure the menu is up to par is to get it formulated by a professional. Balanceit.com and Petdiets.com are two web-based services recommended by veterinarians or you can contact the American College of Veterinary Nutrition for advice. Your own vet can also provide guidance. Prices vary and, in some cases, recipes are provided free when you buy necessary supplements. Maybe not the most fun Christmas present, but if you cook for your pet, it is a very wise choice.
For more fun with pets in the kitchen, try one of the treat makers now on the market. Some, like the Sunbeam Gourmet Dog Treat Maker, resemble panini presses, others are basically food dehydrators with special molds to make bones and such. Although I haven’t used one myself, the reviews look good and homemade treats can be so much healthier than the doggy junk food sold in many stores.
Indoor cats need lots of stimulation to stop them from getting lazy, bored and fat. Carpeted climbing trees are a traditional approach to enriching their environments, but now there are also wall-mounted versions. Wall perches resemble artsy bookshelves, just big enough for one cat. They are available from many pet product retailers or design one yourself. Just be sure it is solidly built and installed.
For the urban kitty who enjoys fresh air, a screened-in perch that fits onto a window much like an air-conditioner can keep her safe. They are available prefabricated or you can build it yourself.
My own dogs won’t be getting anything too fancy this year, just some new food bowls designed to keep their ears out of their dinners. No more “food ears”, hooray. Maybe, if they’re extra good, we’ll pick up a copy of The Movie for Dogs or another petcentric DVD. They already watch too much TV, but it’s Christmas after all and they’ve never shown much interest in books.
Dr. Fiona Gilchrist
Hillcrest Animal Hospital – December 2012