Each year, the amazing variety of Christmas gifts available for our pets becomes more outlandish and luxurious. The prices show our willingness to spend large sums. According to a survey by the Pet Supplies "Plus" chain, pet owners prefer unusual or luxury items over the basics by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent.
Pet toys are favorite items followed by treats, pet beds, collars and leashes, and pet clothing.
Naturally, what is most important to our pets is that they are loved member of our family. They really do not know the difference between a 25-cent stuffed toy from the thrift store and a Neiman Marcus jeweled treasure, but they do like to have toys and a few other possessions of their very own. A cozy bed or cushion is essential -- along with some wonderful treats.
There are a few extra precautions to take during the holiday season. The tree and its glistening decorations are tempting to any normal cat and inquisitive dog. Cats scaling a tree can cause the whole thing to tip over or, at the very least, can cause decorations to fall and break. The pieces from these decorations can be harmful if swallowed. But also, if it is a particularly precious decoration, we might be tempted to ban the critter from the house altogether. That would be terrible. The best thing is to keep pets and the tree separated while we are away.
Pets are likely to at least try to snatch a few edible treasures during Christmas festivities and most of these could be harmful to him as well as distressing to you. Plates of decorated cookies and homemade candy are particularly tempting. Cheese and crackers will lure any pet.
Don't ban the pet from the party. Just keep these delicacies under wrap until they can be guarded. A stern word to a fairly well-behaved cat or dog who is drooling over some of Aunt Betty's fudge will usually be enough. If he looks particularly focused, send him to his cushion at the other end of the room.
Turkey bones easily splinter and can cause serious problems and even death to a dog or cat. Although turkey meat would be just fine for our pets, that is probably not what we would give them. Too often they find the greasy pan drippings which are terrible for them. Remember the simple rule -- if it is good for us, it is probably good for them as well. Scraps are not good for anyone.
'Tis the season for baking. From "The Crazy Kids Guide to Cooking for your Pet," by Barbara and Missy Denzer, come these two treasures for Christmas treats. They are easy, healthy and fun. Make a bunch for your own pet and his friends. This book was chosen Best Children's Non-Fiction Book 2004 by USA Book News.
Candy Cane-9s -- Baked Biscuits
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped or grated carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups very warm water
1 beef bouillon cube
3 tablespoons canola oil
In a large bowl, mix flour and cornmeal. Add garlic, carrots and parsley and mix well. Dissolve bouillon in water and add to mixture. Add oil and mix until a thick dough is formed. Knead on floured surface until you have thoroughly relieved all pent up stress. Take chunks of dough and roll out 4-inch long logs. Curve the tops like a cane and place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
Silent Mice -- Dinner for Two
3-ounce can Mice (1/3 cup cooked rice, 1/2 can of liver flavored cat food (or your cat's favorite flavor)*
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon catnip
1/4 cup peas
- You may substitute 1/4 cup finely chopped tuna or cooked chicken. It's so hard to find canned mice at this time of year.
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve on fancy dishes by candlelight.
Is your pet prepared for the holidays with the very latest fashions? These include:
- Irish Fisherman Knits -- classic cable-knit sweaters with a cozy hood and back pocket in Irish Cream, Garnet Red and Spruce Green with contrasting trim.
- Thermal Hoodies -- hooded sweatshirts with a contrasting topstitch and a kangaroo pocket in red or gray. These adjust with a drawstring and bungee clip for snug fit.
- Shearling Faux Suede Coats -- fully lined in cozy sherpa fleece, these keep out the cold in style. They are available in pink, blue and camel.
- 3-D Dot Sweater -- for country canines, the hooded waffle-knit sweater in holiday red is adorned with turquoise, purple and yellow pompoms for a trendy look.
- Spa and loungewear -- perfect for the couch potato pooch. Might he love the terry spa doggie bathrobe and K-9 pajamas?
What is in shortest supply and largest demand during the busy holiday season is time, and that is what our pets want the most. Try to take a few extra minutes for a walk. At the very least, sit on the floor, or have the pet on the sofa beside you, and give him some extra ear rubbing while watching a wonderful Christmas movie or writing Christmas cards. Time, attention and love are the greatest gifts we can give to our pets.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.