Don't forget your dog when shopping for holiday presents
On Christmas morning, Arlie, our mixed breed dog, would take his presents into the den and privately, with gusto, tear the wrapping paper off all of them. We knew he was done when we heard him squeaking his new treasure.
On the other paw, Cocoa, our rescue German shepherd, always opened her gifts in the manner befitting a lady. She nibbled away at the wrapping paper until there was a mountain of shredded paper on the floor beside her.
We weren't alone buying Christmas gifts for our dogs. The American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey estimates that for 2019 we will spend $75.38 billion on our pets in the United States. According to the 2019-2020, American Pet Products Association's National Pet Owners Survey, basic annual expenses of dog owners, based on their recollection, included $76 spent on food treats and $48 spent on dog toys.
The Humane Society of the United States reports toys are not a luxury, but a necessity. Toys help fight boredom in dogs left alone and can help prevent problem behaviors from developing. Dogs will often play with anything available.
The HSUS offers the following guidelines regarding safe dog toys:
• Toys should be appropriate for your dog's size. Balls and other toys that are too small can be swallowed or become lodged in your dog's throat.
• Toys should be "dog proofed" by removing ribbons, strings, eyes or other parts that could be chewed or ingested. Discard toys that start to break into pieces or have pieces torn off.
• Toys with squeakers should be used under supervision, as the squeaker could be ingested.
The HSUS recommends asking your veterinarian about which rawhide toys are safe and which are not.
"Unless your veterinarian says otherwise, 'chewies' like hoofs, pig's ears, and rawhides should only be played with under your supervision. Very hard rubber toys are safer and last longer."
The list of toys recommended by the HSUS are active toys, distraction toys and comfort toys. The active toys list includes very hard rubber toys such as Nylabone-type products and Kong-type products.
The HSUS list of distraction toys also include Kong-type toys. The Kong toy should be a size appropriate for your dog. Common practice is to fill these toys with broken-up treats or a mixture of treats and peanut butter, which according to the HSUS, may keep a puppy or dog busy for an extended time. Check with your veterinarian about giving peanut butter to your dog.
The HSUS notes comfort toys are soft toys, which for some dogs should be small enough to carry around. An old T-shirt, pillowcase, towel or blanket can be very comforting to a dog, especially if the item smells like you.
The HSUS suggests many toys should be interactive.
"Interactive play is very important for your dog because he needs active people time, and such play also enhances the bond between you and your pet."
Also, by repeatedly returning a ball or Frisbee, or playing hide and seek with treats or toys, dogs can use pent-up mental and physical energy, reducing stress due to confinement, isolation and boredom.
There are many toys on the market. There are even balls that not only roll and bounce, but also can be crunched, bounced in different directions and even have an enticing scent.
Happy dog toy shopping. The best part of a dog toy is playing with it together!
• The Buddy Foundation, 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights, is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. Call (847) 290-5806 or visit www.thebuddyfoundation.org.