Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Including Family Pets in Your Holiday Plans

By Julia Williams

The holiday season is filled with special traditions that make this time of year magical, memorable and fun for kids and parents alike. But what about the family dog or cat? Have you ever considered including them in your family’s favorite holiday customs?

Many would say that their pets don’t know the difference, so it doesn’t matter if they aren’t included. As a lifelong pet lover, I would argue that you and your family members would know, therefore it does matter. Although Fido and Fluffy probably won’t be miffed if there are no gifts for them under the tree and no stocking hung on the mantel with care, what harm does it do to include them? None, and it can create some wonderful memories for you and your family.

Besides, a recent Associated Press/ survey of more than 1,000 American pet owners revealed that half of them consider their animals to be as much a part of their family as any human member. And only a “Scroogely Curmudgeon” could ignore a loved one at Christmas! Here are some ways to include family pets in your holiday plans.

The photo Christmas card or annual family portrait is a great way to show others how much your pet means to you. Your children may not like dressing up for this photo, but they will get a kick out of posing with their pet. That is sure to brighten their smile and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. Dressing up your dog or cat, however, is entirely optional. (If I tried that with my cats, I’m fairly certain they’d shred me to bits).

Fill a Christmas stocking with treats and small toys your pet will love. Remember earlier when I said that a dog might not care if they didn’t get a Christmas stocking? The wonderful photo used for this post just might just prove me wrong. It’s one that CANIDAE recently received for their Facebook Photo Contest, and features three white German Shepherds (Cheyanne, Cloud and Angel) all staring longingly at their filled stockings after being told “Santa was here. Go to your stockings!” These sweet dogs sure look like they can’t wait to see what’s inside their Christmas stockings.

Wrap up a special gift and put it under the tree with all the other presents for your family members. I have seen dogs ripping into their gifts with an exuberance that rivals any young child on Christmas morning, so you can’t tell me that giving dogs gifts is pointless. Cats on the other hand, may need some help “opening” their gift – unless it contains a catnip toy, in which case it will practically open itself. The best part about buying gifts for pets is that they are thrilled with pretty much anything you give them.

Give your pet a special meal on Christmas Day. For my cats’ holiday dinner, I usually put some cooked turkey meat on top of their FELIDAE wet cat food. This turns my docile housecats into wild beasts who ravenously devour their “prey,” and heaven help any fingers accidentally caught in the fray. Just remember to factor the extra treat into their daily ration of regular dog food or cat food. Bear in mind also, it’s not a good idea to let your pet sample the food from your holiday dinner. Human food wreaks havoc on an animal’s digestive system, and some can even be toxic.

I’m sure that will a little thought, you can come up with other ways to include the family pet in your holiday plans and traditions. Although it may not make a big difference to your dog or cat, it can give you and your children treasured memories that will last a lifetime.

Photo by CANIDAE Facebook Contest finalist Cynthia Z. of Bergenfield, New Jersey.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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