More and more, people are treating their dogs as one of the family. But what can you get for the pampered pooch that won’t spoil your best friend too much?
1. Ask your vet about a micro-chip implant. As simple as a vaccination, a micro-chip is implanted under the skin of your pet between the shoulder blades. Even if your dog loses its collar and tags, the chip can’t be lost. By passing a hand-held scanner over the dog’s skin, the information on the chip (usually an ID number stored in a database registry) can be retrieved and you will be reunited with your pet. Shelters and Humane Societies always check stray animals for a micro-chip. Cost, about $25- $30
2. Get a visible ID tag for your dog with its name, and your contact info. If you feel that putting your address on a tag is a security risk, just use your phone number. Did you know that only 2% of pets who go astray are wearing an ID tag? A simple ID tag tells someone that your pet has an owner. More people are willing to approach a stray animal if they note an ID tag, and animals with tags are less likely to be abused. These can be ordered from any number of sources on line in plastic, aluminum or brass. Cost, $4- $10
3. Clean up your dog’s mouth! Dental chew bones can help your pet’s teeth and gums stay healthy and improve breath. Some dogs have died from bowel obstructions from ingesting chewed sections of these bones. A better option is edible dental chews. Several brands are available, Nylabone Nutri-Dent and Zukes Z-Ridge are two suggestions. Cost, from $1- $2.50 per bone
4. Help make your pet more visible on walks, rainy days, or in the evenings. It is often difficult for motorists to notice pedestrians, let alone whether or not they have a dog on a leash. Consider buying a reflective jacket for your pet. Most come in a bright orange color with stripes of reflective material. Cost, $15- $20
5. Why does your dog eat on the floor? Because that’s where the food is. But many vets believe that it would be better for a dog’s neck and back if they ate and drank from elevated bowls, and that it aids their digestion. It’s also pretty nice for your back too; you don’t have to bend over so far. Most modern elevated pet feeding stations won’t slide across the floor like single dishes will either. To choose the correct feeder for your dog measure their height at the shoulder. For large dogs, subtract 4- 10 inches. For medium dogs subtract 3- 6 inches, and for small dogs subtract 1-3 inches. There are many styles of these feeders available from simply functional, to beautiful stations which can fit your home decor. Cost, most are $40- $150
6. Where do you keep your dog’s dry food? Is the bag just stored in the garage or the back shelf of the pantry? Consider a bin or tub for storage. You can even get them on wheels for convenience. You may think that this gift is more for you than your pet. However, it’s good to think about all the little “friends” that may be nibbling through the dog food, and leaving mementos of their visit. What diseases might they have been exposed to that they can pass on to your pet? Make sure the bin you choose has a secure lid, or there is no point. Rolling bins can be hard to find, so I am suggesting one source here, Miles Kimball Cost, $10 to $50 depending on the quality and material
7. A treat ball is a great way to give your dog some of the exercise it probably needs while still letting you spoil the pup a bit. These balls have a way to insert a treat inside the ball. The dog can see, smell and hear the treat, but has to “work” to retrieve it. This stimulates the natural desire of a dog to hunt for food, gives him exercise, and it’s a lot of fun to watch, too! Three brands are Busy Ball, Kong, and Treat Ball. Cost, $10- $15.
8. Here’s an idea that’s great fun and exercise for the dog, but not so much exercise for you. However, if you have limited ability to take your dog for walks, and yet are willing for some pretty active play to occur in the house, many dogs find this irresistible. Buy a simple laser pointer or even a small flashlight with a highly directed beam. Flash it around the room, starting with pointing it at a spot on the floor, to get the dog’s attention. Most dogs will try to catch the light spot. You can sit on the sofa and laugh yourself silly while the dog will nearly turn itself inside out chasing that light around the room trying to catch it! Two warnings… some dogs can become overly obsessive about this activity. If your dog continues to whine and scratch at the last place he “caught” the light for more than a minute after play, you should probably end this kind of game permanently. And never, never point the light at a dog’s eyes (or a person either). Cost, $5- $20
9. If you have a place to play outdoors with your dog, and the dog enjoys fetching a ball, try a ball launcher. These are a slightly flexible handle with a cup on the end that just holds a tennis ball. You can pick the ball up with out touching it (a nice perk since balls do get really slobbery), and the handle allows you to throw the ball much farther than you can with just your arm. Cost, $7- $10
10. If you just can’t resist giving your best friend more treats to eat, consider buying some healthy snacks, or find a recipe to make your own. Any number of companies now offer treats with no fillers. If you want to make your own there are recipes at Two Dog Press and WikiHow . Cost, depends on how many you buy or make
Season’s Greetings to you and your four-footed friends!