GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — While you are decking the halls and spreading the holiday cheer, don’t forget to include your four-legged family members. Here are nine ways to help your dogs and cats enjoy the holiday fun while also avoiding potential dangers.
1. Homemade Treats
Humans tend to indulge in sweet treats and scrumptious family meals around the holidays. Making homemade pet treats is an easy and fun way to include your pets. You can find many healthy treat recipes online. Find a recipe with your pet’s favorite flavors, but be mindful of toxic ingredients that could cause a medical emergency. You can even use peanut butter and yogurt as “icing” to decorate dog treats to look just like Christmas cookies. For healthy treat recipes and ideas, check out BluePearl’s DIY Homemade Pet Treats Pinterest board.
2. Presents for Pets
Gifts are an exciting and special part of the holiday season. Celebrate your pet by picking out a gift or two just for him. Luckily, pets are easy to shop for; most would be ecstatic with a new toy or some tasty treats. You can find gift ideas on our Pet Products & Accessories Pinterest board. Just be sure to either unwrap your pet’s gift yourself or watch carefully – as some wrapping materials can be choking hazards.
3. Costumes & Sweaters
Whether you prefer “ugly sweaters” or elegant eveningwear, you will likely dress up at some point this holiday season. Why not include your pet in the fashion festivities? Most pet stores have an array of holiday-themed costumes and ornamental sweaters designed specifically for pets. When choosing clothing or costumes for your pet, avoid garments with small buttons or pieces which can cause a risk of choking. Also ensure the outfit does not restrict your pet’s movement or ability to breathe. Dressing your pet up can provide some extra entertainment during the holidays and also help keep your pet warm in the chilly winter weather.
4. Extra Playtime
Many people take time off from work and school to enjoy holiday time at home. Your pet will be delighted to have you home and would benefit greatly from some extra play sessions. In fact, spending quality time with you is at the top of your pet’s holiday wish list. So be sure to schedule some time to focus on bonding with your pup through playtime
5. DIY Paw Print Ornament
Your holiday tree is likely filled with ornaments and mementos that remind you of your loved ones. Create an easy tree tribute to your dog with a homemade paw print ornament. You can easily make an attractive ornament with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Start by making a simple dough with salt, flour and water. Then cut out a circle and press your pet’s paw into the center of the soft dough to make an imprint. Use a pen to create a small hole at the top of the ornament (for hanging purposes). Bake at 200 degrees F for a few hours, let cool, and then decorate with colored paint and glitter if desired. You can add your pet’s name and the date to complete your pet’s memorable ornament. String some ribbon through the ornament and it is ready for the tree. Click here for detailed instructions.
6. Charity Donations
Your pet will be warm and cozy in your home surrounded by family during the holiday season, but not all pets are as fortunate. So you may want to make donations that directly benefit other pets, in the spirit of holiday giving. Consider donating treats, food, toys or supplies to your local animal shelter. You can also improve pets’ lives by providing monetary donations to pet-focused charities such as Frankie’s Friends, a non-profit charitable organization that funds life-saving veterinary treatment to pets with severe injuries or illnesses. Even small donations can go a long way.
7. Photoshoot with Santa
Taking a photo with Santa Claus is one of the most amusing ways to create a lasting holiday memory. Many communities offer opportunities to take pictures with Santa or other holiday-themed characters in the month of December. If allowed, bring your pet to the photoshoot fun. Not only are pictures of your pet with Santa just plain adorable, but they also serve as great mementos for Christmas cards, decorative displays and social media posts.
8. Quiet Space
Holidays are a time for togetherness – which can mean large family gatherings or holiday parties in your home. While some pets love the social limelight, others may become anxious around big crowds or loud noises. If you plan to entertain during the holidays, create a quiet space for your pet to rest if he becomes distressed or tired. Choose a quiet room in your home, and lay out his favorite toys for distraction and cozy bedding for comfort. Play soothing music or a television show quietly in the background to create a peaceful environment. By developing a designated “quiet space,” you will help relieve some stress your pet may feel during the holiday celebrations.
Stockings hung on the fireplace or mantle are some of the most iconic and personal holiday decorations. While hanging up stockings for your family members, consider finding a stocking for your pet too. Many pet stores sell small, pet-themed stockings that would be perfect for your four-legged friend. If you enjoy crafting, you could even make your own by using sewing patterns in the shape of a bone, fish or other pet-related symbol. You can fill the stocking with healthy treats and biscuits for your pets (just make sure the stocking is out of reach from your pet until it is time to open gifts!).
More pet stories and information on 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
- Find a new member of your family at the final Empty the Shelters event of the year
- Treating your pets to the perfect holiday gifts
- 61 cats and dogs adopted during Kent County's Empty the Shelters event
- 10,000 dogs needed for largest-ever study on aging
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