A dog lying next to a pile of gifts with a Christmas tree in the background

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Pets are family, so it's no wonder why so many people purchase holiday gifts for their furry friends. Unfortunately, shopping for a pet who has everything can be difficult; you want to find something they'll enjoy or something that can be useful and improve their everyday lives. Of course, you know what your pet enjoys, but you want their holiday gifts to be special. 

Whether you have a dog who loves bones or a cat who loves to watch birds, there's a perfect gift for every pet; you just have to do some research to find something your pet will love. This article will discuss the best holiday gifts for pets, including gifts for dogs and cats guaranteed to ensure your pet has a great holiday. 

Benefits of Pet Toys

A bored dog is a destructive dog, especially if they're not getting enough exercise. However, the same is true for cats. 

Bored pets can develop behavioral problems because they lack mental or physical stimulation.

You can stop a dog's destructive behavior with the right pet toys. Dog and cat toys provide enrichment and activity, giving your pets the mental and physical stimulation they need even when they can't go on long daily walks. 

What Toys Should I Avoid?

The best pet gifts are safe for pets. When shopping for pet toys, there are a few things to avoid, as they could be dangerous to your pet. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to determine which toys are safe for your pet. 

For example, some dogs love plush toys while others chew them up and can eat the stuffing or other materials, potentially causing choking and blockages. It's best not to give your dog anything they could potentially destroy unless you already know they don't destroy their toys. Unsafe toys can be harmful if swallowed and cause intestinal blockages or choking.1 

Source: MSPCA. Some potentially dangerous toys for pets are items with metal parts, real bones that can break and splinter, rawhide, thin rubber toys, and squeaky toys.

Of course, the durability of a toy depends on your pet's chewing behavior. For example, aggressive chewers or dogs that love to chew and have strong jaws should not play with toys that are easy to come apart. However, non-aggressive chewers may find almost any squeaky or plush toy safe. Therefore, you should always consider your dog's play habits; if they enjoy chewing up toys, look for something more durable. 

In addition, you should always monitor your pet when playing with toys because you can't always trust a toy's durability. Therefore, since anything can easily become a choking hazard, you should only let your dog play while you're in the home and can help them if they begin choking.

10 Pet Gift Ideas

When shopping for gifts for pets, there are many options to consider. However, you're not limited to toys and treats; you can find many different gifts for dogs and cats that can improve their quality of life and even promote their health. 

Let's discover a few of the best pet gift ideas to help you get started. 

1. Enrichment mats 

Also known as lick mats, enrichment mats give your pet an activity to keep them focused. You can add tasty treats to the mat, including pet-safe peanut butter or wet food, and let your pet lick it clean. 

Both dogs and cats love lick mats, and they offer an easy form of mental stimulation that doesn't require the pet parent to do anything except prepare it. Lick mats are ideal for fast eaters who need to slow down to prevent their stomachs from flipping, and they can make great distractions during periods of stress. For example, the next time your pet needs their nails trimmed, give them a lick mat with their favorite treats and let them lick it clean while you groom them. Or if your pet would benefit from a distraction during bathtime, look for an enrichment mat with suction cups on the back so you can stick it on the wall.

Snuffle mats are another great option for dogs. Available in different shapes and sizes, snuffle mats are typically made of fleece connected to a mat in a way that it looks like a bed of grass. Treats are dispersed throughout the ‘grass’ to encourage dogs to use their hunting instincts to sniff out treats while providing mental stimulation.

Perhaps the best part about an enrichment mat is that it can be cleaned in the dishwasher or sink with your other dishes, so they won't get dirty or moldy over time. Instead, you can pick it up as soon as your dog or cat is done licking and wash it immediately. 

2. Pet beds 

Every pet deserves a bed of its own where it can go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the house. Additionally, even if your pet sleeps in bed with you, they may want their own space from time to time. Several types of pet beds are available, and many are ideal for pets with joint or hip issues to make it easier for them to get the quality sleep they need without pain. 

Pet beds can be used for napping during the day or sleeping at night, so consider where your dog likes to spend their time and give them a plush place to lie down. In addition, if your home has mostly hardwood flooring, a pet bed could protect their bones and joints by keeping them off the hard floor, as dogs can develop hygromas, inflammation at pressure points from laying on hard surfaces.2 

3. Pet sweaters 

The holidays happen during the winter, and while dogs and cats have fur to keep them warm, many can still benefit from a sweater. Even dogs with thick fur can get cold in the snow while doing their business outside. 

Meanwhile, indoor cats and dogs who spend most of their time indoors can still get cold, especially if they have short or thin fur. Giving your pet a sweater is a great way to ensure their health by keeping them warm and cozy all winter. 

Of course, just because your dog is wearing a sweater doesn't mean it's safe for them to be outside in freezing temperatures. 

If it's too cold for you outside, it's too cold for your furry friend, whether or not they're wearing a sweater. 

4. Treats 

Treats are another great holiday gift for pets, and during the holiday season, you can give your furry friends the gift of high-quality and premium treats you normally wouldn't give them during the rest of the year. 

Of course, remember that there are a few cat and dog food ingredients to avoid, and cats and dogs have different dietary requirements. 

5. Hide and seek toys 

Cats and dogs are natural hunters, so they love using their senses to hunt for treats or toys. If you want to stop a dog from digging in the yard, you'll need to satisfy their natural urge to hunt in another way. Hide-and-seek toys allow your pets to satisfy their natural urges and curiosity and work by having plush animals or toys pop out of holes for your pet to find. 

These toys allow pets to sniff and use their brains to find creative solutions. However, you should always monitor your pet when playing with hide-and-seek toys because many of them are made from soft materials that could easily be torn apart by heavy chewers. 

An alternative for these heavy-chewers is to sign up for a nose work class so you can swap the toy for a scent and still give your dog mental stimulation.

6. Crate 

For some dogs, crates are a source of comfort as they give them their own space away where no one can bother them. Once your dog is crate trained, it may view its crate as a safe space where it can go to rest or get away from scary or anxiety-inducing situations. 

Pet parents can purchase comfortable crates to use as sanctuary spaces for dogs. Of course, if your pet isn't crate trained, it can take a few weeks to a few months to teach them how to properly use their crate, but you can leave the crate open at all times and let your pooch walk in and rest whenever they feel like it. 

7. Cat scratching post 

There's nothing cats love more than grooming themselves, and a scratching post is the ideal mix of grooming and mental stimulation. 

Scratching posts are a functional gift that allows your cat to groom their nails, and the activity can also reduce stress. If your cat already has a scratching post, consider getting them a new one for a new room in your home so they can have one in all their favorite places. You can also invest in a cat tree that has multiple scratching posts and a perch they can climb where they can go to look out the window. 

Cat scratching posts come in many different options, so if you already have a vertical one, try a horizontal one this time. Or, think about switching the material the cat scratching post is made from, as you can find sisal fabric or rope, carpet, and wood options.

8. Slow feeders 

Slow feeders are great for cats and dogs who eat too quickly. Since eating too quickly can lead to GI issues, obesity, and even more harmful health problems like choking, vomiting, and bloat, you should never let your dog or cat eat too quickly. 

Slow feeders slow down a pet's eating to give them more time to chew and swallow their food to prevent issues associated with eating too quickly. In addition, these bowls make it less likely for your pet to choke, can improve digestion, allow you to easily portion your pet's meals, and provide mental stimulation since your pet will have to follow a puzzle to eat their food. Slow feeders have different difficulty levels, from slow feeder bowls, which are typically pretty easy, to food puzzle toys of varying difficulties.

9. Tunnels and cat trees

Tunnels are another great toy for cats and dogs because they can be used inside or outdoors, giving your pet a physically and mentally stimulating activity to enjoy. With tunnels, you can teach your pet agility and give them a quiet place to spend their time if they don't feel like playing. 

Your pet may sleep in the tunnel when they're not playing with them. After the cold season is over, you can take your dog's tunnel outside and invest in more agility training tools to keep your pet active while teaching them new skills. 

If tunnels aren’t something your cat would enjoy, cat trees and shells are a great alternative and a way to expand your cat’s vertical space. Cat trees come in many designs, some of which that feature enclosed levels.

10. Cat ball tracks

If your cat is like most, they love hunting and tracking prey. Unfortunately, pet cats can't hunt prey as they would in the wild, so you'll have to find other ways to satisfy their natural instincts. Cat ball tracks allow cats to follow a ball down a track and try to swat it or remove the balls from the toy. 

These toys are highly interactive, and cats love to swat at the balls and watch them roll down the track. Depending on your cat's ability to focus, they can keep your cat busy for hours while they try to take the ball off the track. 

Two cats lounging on a cat tree

Final Notes

Every year, you may buy your dog or cat an edible gift. While you should always give your pet premium, healthy treats, many other gifts can support their overall health and wellness. When shopping for gifts this holiday season, look for toys that enhance enrichment and can provide your pet with mental and physical stimulation. 

Of course, you know your pet best to determine whether a new toy is safe for them. For example, some pets should never have plush toys, while others love to snuggle with their favorite stuffed animals. If you're unsure whether a toy, treat, or bone is safe for your pet, consult a Dutch vet. We can help you find a safe toy to improve your pet's quality of life. 

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References

  1. Sinnott, Virginia. “The Dangers of Dog Toys.” MSPCA, 14 Sept. 2017, https://www.mspca.org/angell_services/the-dangers-of-dog-toys/.

  2. “Hygroma in Dogs.” Merck Manual, Oct 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/hygroma/hygroma-in-dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.