Stocking Stuffers: Safer Christmas Gifts for Cats & Dogs
You can’t forget to treat your furry friends this holiday season. After all, more toys mean more distractions, comfort when they’re feeling anxious, a quick solution to tiring out an energized pup, and less time spent getting into things they shouldn’t be in.
Picking out Christmas gifts for cats is easier since they’re already pretty picky about toys and well, everything else, but dogs are often quick to accept any kind of toy or treat you present to them. This means that it’s your duty as a pet parent to be especially mindful when picking out stocking stuffers and other Christmas gifts for your pets.
Several factors contribute to the danger or safety of a toy, and many of them depend on the size of your pet, their activity levels and playing environment. Certain gifts for small dogs might not make great gifts for large ones.
Although we can’t deem any toy 100% safe, we can provide you with a simple holiday gift guide for pets to help point you in the right direction.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, different types of toys fit the different personalities of each dog.
Active toys. Hard, rubber toys like Nylabones or Kong-like products that come in various shapes and sizes are great for chewing on and playing with. Rope and woven toys are excellent for multiple-pet households where a lot of tug-of-war goes down. Tennis balls are also perfect for fetching; however, you should discard any that have been chewed up as they can be a choking hazard.
Distraction toys. Kongs, “busy box,” “feeders,” or other similar rubber products that you can fill with treats are great for distracting your pooch for hours. If approved by your veterinarian, peanut butter is also a fantastic and tasty toy stuffer.
Comfort toys. Soft, plush toys serve several purposes for pups, but this is when the dog type comes into play. If your pet enjoys carrying around soft toys and views this toy as their friend, pick one appropriate to the size of your pup’s mouth. For those that want to shake or destroy their toys, choose one that’s sturdy to withstand such rough-housing and one large enough to avoid accidental swallowing amid that chaos.
The Bark offers some smart, safer, and widely popular dog toy options from reputable pet product companies worldwide.
Additionally, for those on the hunt for Christmas gifts for cats, Chewy offers an array of toys from reputable brands like PetStages, All Kind, Frisco, Ethical Pet, and many more. These serve as great distractions for your kitty counter surfer, hopefully keeping them from swatting all your holiday decor down!
Some things to avoid:
- Balls with single air holes (these can create a dangerous suction trap)
- Squeaker toys (unless closely monitored)
- Sticks and stones (may splinter or become lodged in throat or stomach)
- Heavily dyed toys
- Toys treated with fire retardants or stain guard
- Soft plastics
- Feather toys
- Balls with bells inside
- Toys with plastic inside
Both dogs and cats use toys for comfort, to carry, shake, and roll around with, so the toys you purchase should be interactive yet appropriate for their playstyle and appropriate for their size – you wouldn’t give a teacup chihuahua the same toy you’d give a newfoundland and you surely wouldn’t give that same toy to your cat!
It’s imperative to understand the risks toys pose of ingestion, choking, stomach obstruction, containment of toxic materials, and more. While it’s a federal requirement that products consumed by humans are regulated and inspected for safety, it’s not a requirement for animal products. Exercise caution when purchasing Christmas gifts for your pets, and be sure to supervise their play once you’ve gifted it to them.
If you’re looking to stuff your pets stocking this season, check with your veterinarian for guidance on which toys are safer and which ones to avoid according to your pet’s specific needs. The brands/products contained within this article have no affiliation with AZPetVet, and their presence should not be interpreted as an endorsement or recommendation by our veterinarians.