What’s in your pet’s stocking?

By DR. FRED SELF / Veterinarian

I have been to several of my friends’ homes over the last few years around Christmas time. The more striking decorations I have seen, while visiting, are the stockings labeled for each pet.

I have to admit I like the idea of pets having stockings of their own. It seems like a personal way of giving them treats at Christmas time and it serves to remind us how many treats they are getting, so that we do not go overboard.

It is important, as those stockings are filled, to remember which stocking stuffers are and are not appropriate.

Some of the best treats to give for dogs are compressed rawhides. These are made of rawhide that has been shredded and then pressed back together. The benefit for these treats is that as they are chewed they break into small pieces and do not block the intestine.

Toys for dogs should be selected based on size. If it is small enough to be swallowed it is too small to be put in the stocking.

A definite no for the stocking are hooves and real bones. Hooves can severely damage the dog’s main chewing teeth. Bones on the other hand are never completely chewed up. Even small bone fragments can cut the intestine.

For cats, a small chewy or soft treat is best. Where toys are concerned, cats should not be given anything that has loose or easily swallowed strings attached. The sticks with a string and toy attached are OK, but should not be left out unmonitored. The jury is still out on some gifts like the grass designed for cats to eat. If you want to try it, that is fine. However, if it causes your cat to have an upset stomach or keeps them from eating their regular food you should take the grass away.

For both cats and dogs, the toys should have some give or flexibility. If they are rock hard, they can damage teeth. Laser pointers can be a lot of fun for pets to chase. Just remember not to shine the laser into anybody’s eyes.

As you are hanging and filling your pets’ stockings, remember that just as important as the stocking stuffers, is the amount of time you spend with your pets.

Dr. Fred Self is a veterinarian at Shelbiana Animal Clinic in Columbiana, along with Dr. Charles Thornburg. You can reach them at 669-7717.