For many, it can be difficult to select and provide a gift that is needed and will be cherished for a long time. As the abundance of holiday giving is upon us, providing the gift of good pet health is essential. It could be the very best gift for a family member, your parents, or your children with pets.
Today most pets are truly regarded as members of the North American family. Over 60% of North American households have at least one dog, cat, bird, or other companion animal. Many have more than one. There are more than 75 million pet dogs in the U.S. and Canada and nearly 85 million pet cats. Projected 2009 pet expenditures for North America are over $45 billion, of which $25 billion will be spent on veterinary related care.
According to a recent national survey by pet retailer PetSmart; of 1,000 dog and cat pet owners, 95 percent of pet owners say they’ll give their pet a gift or special treat this holiday season. Also, pet retailer PETCO, reports that for many pet owners, their animal companions are a big part of their holiday plan. Out of nearly 800 pet parents who responded to a 2008 survey, more than 90 percent said they include their pets in holiday celebrations; 67 percent said they would include their pet in a holiday photo session, 62 percent sign holiday cards on behalf of their pets; two-thirds said they will wrap gifts for pets; and more than a third said they will dress up their pet for the holidays – and plan to prepare a special holiday meal for their pet.
The North American Pet Health Insurance Association also reminds all pet owners to be mindful of the following cautions during this festive time of the year:
• Do not provide any forms of chocolate
• Do not provide table scraps or foods not specifically prepared for our pets
• Secure or remove garbage and food scraps from the kitchen before sitting down to dine
• Adjust your pets’ feeding time to occur as you are serving dinner for special occasions and add a special pet treat as part of the pet meal
• Plan and provide short periods of special one-on-one time for walks and just providing focused attention during special occasions
• Our pets will adjust better to the additional activities taking place in the home, if a little bit of special attention is provided.
Other cautionary “tails” to share during holidays include avoiding poinsettias and tinsel, especially with cats in the house. Dogs can become ill after consuming holiday tree standing water, though generally not life threatening. On the other hand, there are many positive examples of great things pet owners can do to correctly spoil their pets. Provide a special holiday trip to the groomer or provide a nice shampoo wash and dry at home. Hang a stocking with correct treats and toys. A new toy with a bit of cat nip is okay for our feline friends. Just remember, pets are aware it is a special time of the year and all of the festivities can cause our pets to get into mischief and potential painful trouble. Also check with your veterinarian for the preferred 24 hour emergency pet hospital in your area for care after hours and have the phone number with your other important emergency information.