Around the holidays, pet owners are keen to spread the joy of the season not only to friends and relatives, but also to furry members of the family: their dogs and cats. Unfortunately, many of the hallmarks of the season may present an unsafe situation for pets. Christmas trees full of sparkly lights and shiny ornaments can tempt cats and dogs to climb and tug, resulting in a fallen tree, smashed bulbs, and an injured pet. Candles and fireplaces can scorch unwary animals. And treats left lying around can spell tummy trouble or worse (especially if they contain chocolate or raisins). But these are holiday hazards that most people are aware of and try to prevent. When it comes to gifts for our pets, most of us don’t expect that items made for animals could pose a threat. So if you’re unsure what to put in the stocking for Fido or Fluffy, here are a few things you’ll want to avoid.
1. Squeakers. You have to assume that any toy you give your pet will eventually get torn apart. Those that come equipped with squeakers (usually a plastic ball) can pose a definite choking hazard (as pets who dismantle the toy could easily inhale the ball while chewing on it). Try to avoid toys that have squeakers or other small parts inside them since your pet may be keen to get them out.
2. Strings. While many cats will simply play with a ball of string, others will unravel it and swallow it whole, leading to digestive problems and a potential surgery (since string tends to clump up in the intestines). Whether you have cats or dogs, toys with strings should not be a part of their playtime routine (unless you carefully monitor them at all times to ensure safety).
3. Stuffing. Cloth toys will likely come with some type of cotton stuffing (batting is common) that pets may eat once a toy has been torn apart. While this material can sometimes pass without harm to your pet, why take the chance? Simply forego such flimsy toys in lieu of those that are more suitable (like toys made of rubber or hide that are more durable).
4. Plastics. Many toys for both dogs and cats contain plastic elements. While cats are unlikely to cause too much damage to even thin plastics (like those used for ping-pong ball rattles or food puzzles), items like shiny bows and such could all too easily become shredded and lodged in their throats. Some dogs, on the other hand, will gnaw on even the toughest of plastics, leading to dangerously sharp edges. In short, most plastic items are best avoided (especially considering that their composition could be toxic over time).
5. Special items. Some pets have a penchant for eating certain items. Large dogs may swallow socks, underwear, or other items of clothing, making fabric toys a definite no-no. Cats might enjoy shredding and chomping on paper, so cardboard scratching posts could be hazardous. The point is, if you know what type of items your pets will gravitate towards eating (to dire consequences), you should make sure to avoid giving them those toys that could lead to harm (and stop friends and family from doing so as well).
Jessica Anderson is a writer for PUA where you can find great tips and advice about the art of seducing your partner.