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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


Despite the sheer glee dog owners achieve by giving holiday gifts, most canines will be similarly enthusiastic about nearly any offering, regardless of holiday or occasion. Dog caretakers might as well provide presents aimed at enhancing canine health or safety instead of that massive red and white, artificially colored, rawhide candy cane.

I have no contractual allegiance to promote any of the following products. The suggestions stem from my experience in how relationships between dogs and their caretakers can be improved through their use.


Accidental or intentional removal of a collar and identifying tags can leave your pet prone to becoming lost in our vast and treacherous world. A microchip (Home Again and Avid are two of my top picks) is a cost effective means of increasing the likelihood that you and your dog will be reunited following an unforeseen separation.

If your unidentified pet is brought to a hospital or shelter, the microchip is scanned and the chip’s manufacturer is contacted. If your personal information is kept up to date and you are able to receive communication, then you will be notified of your pet’s location.

Microchip implantation can be performed at any life stage, is minimally painful, and should be part of your dog’s next wellness exam.

Bags on Board Leash Handle Dispenser


Fusing form and function, the Leash Handle Dispenser has a sturdy, rubber lined handle, which also serves as a combination bag dispenser and holder for waste filled bags. As Cardiff and I often stroll Southern California’s picturesque beaches, there are many times when a trash can is not immediately available to proper dispose of his bowel movements.

The Leash Handle Dispenser is a better option than stuffing the poop bag in a pocket and leaves my hands free to maintain control over my enthusiastic canine.

Kyjen Outward Hound Designer Pet Saver Life Jacket


If your dog likes water sports, then it is your obligation to promote safety while kayaking, boating, and jet skiing. Wait! Jet skiing dogs? I don’t condone canine jet skiing, as you’ll see in my TeddyHilton.com video in which I plead for Enrique Iglesias to better consider the welfare of his German Shepherd Dog.

When kayaking with Cardiff on my parent’s Massachusetts lake, we both wear life preservers. The Kyjen Outward Hound Designer Pet Saver Life Jacket fits him comfortably, allows for easy movement and has a convenient handle. Plus, Cardiff looks handsome while partaking in his "Lakewatch" responsibilities.

Firsttrax Noz to Noz (N2N) Sof-Krate


Dogs should always be properly restrained inside a car during transit. Your dog faces life threatening danger from being tossed around inside, or thrown out of your car.

Additionally, an unrestrained dog is a considerable driving distraction.

To transport Cardiff, I use the Firsttrax Noz to Noz (N2N) Sof-Krate. Cardiff is safely confined to a well aerated space in my car’s hatch back and exhibits minimal signs of stress (agitation, panting, etc.) as compared to being tethered with a seatbelt harness. The Sof-Krate can also be used inside the home, hotel, or any other place an additional canine den is needed.


Image via 3 pups in a pop-up

I am generally not a fan of extendable dog leads (see Will West Hollywood Follow UK and Fine Dog Owners for Using Retractable Leads?), as handlers have inadequate control over their dogs’ movements when the leash is extended beyond a few feet.

My opinion is circumstantially changing after being introduced to the LeashLocket at the BlogPaws 2011 Conference. Ingeniously, your canine companion holds the coiled leash when not in use, as the LeashLocket conveniently snaps onto a neck collar. Provided you can reach your dog, the LeashLocket is easily grasped to reestablish control. Your hands are also free to quickly unholster your smart phone for a choice photo op.

Although our tendency is to frequent beaches where leashes are not required, Cardiff and I are now properly equipped to comply by regulatory bodies while having a fun and safe time.

Preparation H Wipes


As a holistic house call veterinarian, many of my patients are geriatric dogs in need of hospice care. A challenge facing many senior dogs and their owners is maintaining the skin and coat health around the anus, vulva, and prepuce (the sheath housing the penis). These areas often accumulate bodily secretions, which cause skin irritation and increase potential for infection (skin, urinary tract, other).

Besides keeping hair trimmed appropriately short, using a non-irritating wipe can help promote cleanliness. I like Preparation H Wipes, or comparable witch hazel and aloe products, which have natural antiseptic and soothing qualities.

These wipes can also be used to clean feet, faces, and ears. Packages can be kept in your home, car, or office and make great stocking stuffers.


There are so many more products available to dog and cat lovers that can make great gifts. Before purchasing or accepting just any pet product, consider the potential positive or negative health implications. Ultimately, your pet will thank you for it.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: KellyNelson / via Shutterstock

Comments  9

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  • Handles!
    12/13/2011 06:13am

    Love the Pet Saver Life Jacket with the handle. Too bad kitties would resist this jacket.

    By the way, Cardiff is a handsome model!

  • 12/13/2011 11:49am

    Yes, the Outward Hound life vest is so awesome with the handle to easily remove your pet from a dire, watery circumstance.
    Cardiff actually really enjoys wearing it and I have a greater piece of mind with him swimming around the lake.
    Have a safe and fun holiday season!
    What are your pet's getting this year?
    Thank you for your comments.
    Dr PM

  • 12/13/2011 06:36pm

    Every day is Christmas for my critters. On Christmas Day, they will get some extra lap time and, for whoever wants it, a good brushing. It kinda works out that way since I'm not at work. :-)

    I did, however, get specially made wooden ornaments for everyone at the vet clinic. There was also a big basket of cool bookmarks, a variety of flavored chapsticks, gold-foil covered chocolate "coins" and a large assortment of coffees and teas for their break room. My vet got his own velvet stocking with little goodies and a generous gift card to a specialty grocery store that his family likes.

    They're all so very good to my critters and me all year long. This is a nice time to remember each and every one of them.

  • 12/17/2011 09:29pm

    I'm glad to hear that you shower your pets with attention (grooming, activity, etc) instead of merely high calorie gifts!
    The people in your veterinary clinic are lucky to get such a variety of cool gifts from their client (you).
    I hope that you and your pets have a safe and fun Christmas!
    Are you (yet) making your New Year's resolutions for your pets? See up coming blog posts covering trends for a fresh start to 2012.
    Dr PM

  • Good Stuff
    12/14/2011 12:30pm

    This is best 5 I've seen this year! I had never thought of microchipping as a gift. Very clever. I also really liked that tip about the Preparation H wipes. Love useful, cheap helpers. Happy Holidays to you!

  • 12/14/2011 03:49pm

    Amanda Jane,
    Thank you for your comments.
    I hope that I gave some practical insight as to helpful gifts for your canine (and feline) patients.
    Personally, I'd much rather have a useful gift that isn't overly fancy than a useless expensive one.
    I hope that you have a great holiday season!
    Dr PM
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

  • Nice Gift Choices
    12/14/2011 07:43pm

    You've presented some great gift ideas, Dr. Patrick. There's something on the list for almost any pet owner, I think. I particularly like the microchip suggestion.

  • 12/20/2011 02:07am

    Thank you Dr Lorie.
    After having worked innumerable emergency shifts where an untagged lost dog lacking a microchip is brought in by a good Samaritan, I feel strongly about this topic.
    Instead of buying fancy clothes or treats for your pet this holiday season, invest in health and security!
    I hope you and your feline brood have an amazing Christmas--New Year's/etc celebration.

  • 12/20/2011 02:18am

    Thank you, Dr. Patrick. I wish the same for you and Cardiff!

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