Reviewed and updated for accuracy on December 2, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
The joy of giving just the right gift is priceless, and this holds true even when the recipient is a pet.
The trick to picking out the perfect presents for your pet is to put yourself in their shoes (so to speak). No matter how cute your Persian might look squeezed into that turtleneck sweater, I’m thinking that they probably have something else in mind.
So, what would your pets really want? Here are six vet-approved presents that are sure to spark some joy in your pets this holiday season.
1. Puzzle Feeders
Both cats and dogs are designed to spend much of their time hunting for food, but we’ve made life easy for them by putting food in a bowl a few times each day.
These hand-delivered meals not only promote overeating and weight gain, but they also lead to boredom.
How do we expect our pets to fill their days if they don’t have to hunt for food, particularly when we leave the house?
Puzzle feeders offer great ways to increase the amount of time it takes for pets to consume their meals, while simultaneously providing entertainment, mental stimulation and sometimes physical exercise as well.
Pick out the best type of puzzle feeder based on the type of food you offer and your pet’s temperament and habits. Better yet, get several that you can rotate through to provide an even more diverse experience for your dog or cat.
Here are just a few feeder options you can gift your dog or cat this season:
For Dogs and Cats
The Hyper Pet LickiMat Boredom Buster slow feeder mat is ideal for feeding wet food or spreadable treats like peanut butter. It’s designed to soothe your pet as they take their time licking food from every part of the mat.
The Outward Hound Fun Feeder interactive dog bowl will slow down dogs who eat their meals very quickly and provide mental stimulation as they try to get those last few kibbles.
The KONG Wobbler dog toy is a good option for aggressive chewers. By limiting the amount of kibble dispensed, you can slow down your dog’s mealtime while also providing them with a fun toy to push around.
The Trixie Activity Strategy Game tunnel feeder will challenge your cat’s problem-solving abilities and turn mealtime into a mentally and physically stimulating activity.
The PetSafe SlimCat interactive cat feeder is an inexpensive option that encourages physical activity. This feeder can be used to get your cat stalking and pouncing to get their dry food.
The Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co. indoor hunting cat feeder kit is a great way to engage your cat’s natural hunting instincts and provide a stimulating mealtime. These little mouse feeders can even be hidden around the house for a true hunting experience.
2. A Catio
Cats are safest when they live indoors, but it’s undeniably true that their lives become duller without outdoor access. But they can have it both ways.
Catios (cat patios) let cats safely enjoy some of the benefits of being outside without putting their safety at risk. Plans and kits for fabulously large and complex structures are widely available online, but if your home situation (or finances) put these out of reach, you still have options.
Here are two catio options that you can use to enrich your cat’s daily routine.
The Outback Jack kitty compound is a tent and tunnel structure that is easily set up and taken down and can be stored in small spaces. It’s a great way to provide a safely controlled outdoor experience for your cat.
If you live in an apartment without outdoor access, a perch like the Frisco 52-in cat tree or Oster Sunny Seat window-mounted cat bed can be placed by a sunny window and can provide hours of feline entertainment.
3. A New Bed
Your pet’s bedding gets worn out just like mattresses do. A great gift for your pet could be a brand new pet bed.
You’ll need to find one that suits your pet’s needs and preferences. Here are a few great bed options to gift your furry family member.
Elevated dog beds like the Coolaroo steel-framed elevated pet bed are a great option for pets who regularly seek out cool places to sleep.
An orthopedic dog bed like the Brindle plush memory foam orthopedic pet bed is great for pets that suffer from arthritis or other conditions that can benefit from some extra cushioning.
Dogs and cats who sleep curled up in a ball often enjoy smaller beds with elevated sides. The Frisco dog and cat igloo bed cave even has a top for extra, cave-like snugness.
Elderly cats can have trouble staying warm. Why not spoil them with a heated cat bed like the K&H Pet Products Thermo-Kitty fashion splash heated cat bed?
4. A Larger Tank or Cage
Don’t forget the smaller critters in your life.
A common issue seen with smaller pets—fish, birds and small mammals—is that their living quarters don’t provide them enough space to comfortably engage in their normal behaviors.
Gifting your small animal a larger environment is a great way to help improve their overall quality of life, and it makes for a happier pet. Here are a few options for larger living arrangements for the small pets in your life.
Parakeets, canaries and finches could stretch their wings in the Prevue Pet Products wrought iron small and medium birds flight cage.
Large cages with multiple levels, like the MidWest Critter Nation deluxe small animal cage, are ideal for animals the size of rats, chinchillas and ferrets.
5. New or Improved Experiences
Sometimes the best presents aren’t things but experiences. Your pet is sure to love some new, novel activities that provide them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
Here are a few ways to provide new or improved experiences:
If your dog spends long stretches of time at home alone, maybe he would like to spend a day or two a week at a nearby doggy day care instead. Or, if being social isn’t his thing, you could hire a dog walker to take him for a midday walk.
Have you looked into your pet’s nutrition? Improving their diet could provide both a tasty treat and a boost to their overall health. Talk with your veterinarian about potentially upgrading your pet’s food.
6. Extra Love and Attention
Finally, what pets want most from us is our attention. The best way to show our love is to spend some extra time with them … and it’s free!
By: Jennifer Coates, DVM
Featured Image: iStock.com/