We’re here to help you choose fun gifts for pets and people
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Are your pets hard to buy for? We’re lucky all of ours adore treats, which makes shopping for them easy, but some dogs and cats are a little more demanding in the entertainment department. It’s not always easy to know what to get pet lovers, either. But we’ve come up with what we think are some great gift options for all the animals and animal lovers on your list -- whether they’ve been naughty or nice. Look for them on Amazon, Chewy or other pet-tastic websites.
Gifts For Pets
A 12-days-of-Christmas Advent calendar filled with toys is a fun way to kick off the holiday season. Open a door each day to bring out a new plush, rope or squeaky toy for your pooch pal.
Anxious dogs can get their calm on with the Busy Buddy Calming Toy, which releases kibble or treats as it’s rolled, and also emits a soothing chamomile scent.
The Outward Hound Hide a Squirrel Dog Toy was a Secret Santa gift for some of our large doggie friends. Any dog with a love-hate relationship with squirrels will find joy in searching out the stuffed squirrels tucked into the soft-sided tree trunk.
Any pet who loves warmth -- and that’s most of them -- will appreciate the Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper Heated Bed. And you’ll appreciate the washable cover.
People with puppies who haven’t yet learned to keep teeth off skin will want to get one or more of the colorful (and machine-washable!) braided Polar Fleece Happy Hands Happy Dogs Tug Toys: They’re long enough to keep hands safe from ravening shark puppies, and fun enough to entertain them year-round.
Put your kitty connoisseur’s discerning palate to the test with the Catnip Flight from Litterbox.com, containing buds and blends of organic catnip and silvervine (for cats who don’t respond to a hit of ‘nip).
The monthly subscription box from Litterbox.com includes an assortment of six to eight items such as plush or crinkle cat toys, catnip products, and cat-safe household cleaners or grooming products -- not to mention a delivery box for cats to play in.
Cats who love to knead, scratch and burrow will revel in the SnugglyCat Ripple Rug, with strategically placed holes and a thick covering perfect for cat play.
Not all cats run around like maniacs, especially seniors, but they still need play and mental stimulation. The Tower of Tracks by PetStages has a stable base and three levels with movable balls for cats to bat at.
Gifts For Pet Lovers
Pet lovers overwhelmed by fur will thank you profusely for the gift of a ChomChom. This reusable pet hair remover grabs fur, hair and lint, pulling them into a receptacle that can be emptied when full. And for crafty cat lovers who have given up and just live with the fur, there’s “Crafting With Cat Hair,” a how-to book on making things with fallen cat fur.
Sock aficionados -- yes, we’re out there -- adore foot cozies featuring their breed or even personalized with their own pet. Cat-loving kids and grownups alike will love the soothing glow of the multicolor Kitty Night Light. Other good gift ideas for pet lovers are cat- or dog-of-the-day calendars, a custom pet portrait or a session with a pet photographer.
For the bookworm set, look for “Dog’s Best Friend” by Simon Garfield, a guide to the ancient relationship between dogs and humans; “Hit and Run,” a thriller by Amy Shojai, whose dog and cat characters help solve the mystery; “Dog-eared,” a collection of some of literature’s greatest poems about dogs, edited by Duncan Wu; and “Alfie the Christmas Cat” by Rachel Wells, a lighthearted look at the true spirit of the holiday that will appeal to all ages.
Ways to get a
sick pet to eat
Q: My dog is sick, and he has lost his appetite. Do you have any tips on how we can get him to start eating again?
A: It’s distressing when our pets are sick and don’t want to eat, especially since we can’t explain to them that eating is an important part of their return to health. Fortunately, there are a few tricks that can encourage your dog (or cat) to start eating again.
-- Try baby food. Giving your pet the pureed meat in those tiny jars -- on its own, or mixed with some rice or his regular food -- may help to jump-start his appetite. It’s not a long-term solution, but rather a strategy for getting him to eat again until he’s starting to feel better. Then you can slowly transition him back to his regular diet. Before trying this, read the baby food’s label to make sure it doesn’t contain onion powder, which has health risks for dogs and cats.
-- Warm the food. Heating your pet’s food on the stove, or briefly in the microwave, can increase its smell. If your dog can’t smell it, he won’t be inspired to eat it. Serve it just above human body temperature -- about 99 degrees Fahrenheit -- so that it’s warm, but not hot. Stir it first to eliminate any hot spots. It can also help to use a damp washcloth to gently wipe away any mucus accumulation from your dog’s nose so he can better smell what you’re offering.
-- Offer small meals several times a day. Your dog might not feel like eating his normal amount of food all at once.
-- Ask your veterinarian about medication that can help. If your dog has an upset stomach, your veterinarian can prescribe nausea-relief medication or an appetite stimulant. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Heart disease, diet
link still unclear
Veterinary researchers and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration have been investigating causes of nonhereditary dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which has been seen increasingly since 2014, with more than 1,100 case reports over a six-year period. The disease of the heart muscle, which results in an enlarged heart, is primarily linked to a genetic predisposition, but it is now occurring more frequently in dogs in which the disease is not commonly seen. Increasingly, the nonhereditary form is thought to be a complex interaction of multiple factors such as genetics, underlying medical conditions, and diet.
Potential dietary links include the use of ingredients such as potatoes (including sweet potatoes and red potatoes), peas and lentils in both grain-free and grain-containing diets. Those types of ingredients aren’t new in pet foods, but their proportions may have changed over the years. Dry, canned, raw and home-cooked formulations have been named in the reports.
The FDA met in September with veterinary, academic and industry experts at Kansas State University, which hosted the scientific forum, to review current research and discuss findings. Veterinary cardiologists reported that veterinary treatment and dietary changes brought some good results in improving heart function when DCM was caught early. Among the areas for further exploration are ingredient levels and sourcing, bioavailability of nutrients, and diet processing, with the goal of finding common factors that may play a role. Pet food manufacturers have been asked to share diet formulation information to aid understanding of diet’s role.
No recalls have been made of pet foods associated with nonhereditary DCM because the FDA does not believe it has substantive evidence that the diets are unsafe. Pet owners and veterinarians can check the FDA’s website (fda.gov) for updates as research continues. Signs of DCM and other heart diseases include decreased energy, coughing, difficulty breathing, rapid respirations and collapse.
-- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by “The Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.