Santa is checking his list and checking it twice to see which family pet has been naughty or nice. As pets make it to Santa’s list and family members shop for them, they should keep this goal in mind: gifts, especially toys, should be species-appropriate, appeal to the pet’s natural instincts and provide enrichment that safely engages the pet mentally and physically.
After consulting local pet experts and enthusiasts, HealthLinks compiled a list of top dog and cat toys that will make excellent holiday gifts.
Toys for Dogs
- Kailey Chisolm from Hollywood Feed in West Ashley recommends Patchwork Pet’s Gingerbread House and Men plush toy for an interactive holiday-themed gift. “The dog has to root around to get the squeaky gingerbread men out of the house,” she said. “The house can also be stuffed with treats and kibble to keep the dog sniffing.”
- Cathy Bennett of Groovy Goldendoodles, the Therapy Animal Program coordinator at MUSC, is a fan of dog-friendly tennis balls. “Plain and simple, they’re easy to carry, rinse and dry quickly from drool, beach sand or mud, and are reasonably priced,” she asserted. Those looking for an interesting take on tennis balls might enjoy The Petstages Grunt N’ Punt Tennis Ball, which keeps dogs engaged by making a grunting sound.
- Outward Hound’s Orbee-Tuff Soccer Ball Treat-Dispensing Dog Chew Toy is another great way to keep dogs entertained as they push the ball around to get their treats. The toy can be safely used inside and outdoors, in the water or on land.
Toys for Cats
- Kimberly Layman, founder of Kimberly’s Kritter Care in North Charleston, recommended the Cat Catcher by Go Cat. “It’s just a small mouse on a wire with a wand, but every cat I’ve used it with absolutely loves it, “she said. “I especially like to use wands before mealtime so the cat can “hunt” for its food,” she explained.
- Charleston cat groomer Whitney Bullock loves Zanies Fur Mice by PetEdge. “My three cats still love those tiny, furry mice that they have on the counters at pet stores. They are about 2 inches long, covered in fake fur and are usually displayed inside a big cardboard box that looks like a wedge of cheese. They make great stocking stuffers.”
- For busy families, South Carolina-based cat expert and behavior consultant Rita Reimers of the Cat Behavior Alliance recommends a USB-charged mouse. “It’s activated by the cat’s touch, has a feather attachment and it’s oblong so it wobbles, making the feather jerk around like real prey,” she explained.
Satisfying their natural desire to hunt is central to cat and dog play. It’s essential to buy species-appropriate gifts for pets because cats and dogs have different needs, drives and behaviors. In addition, toys designed for humans or a particular pet may pose a choking or poisoning hazard when shared with the wrong species. No matter the species, supervision is key to ensuring a pet is interacting safely with a new toy.
By Isabel Alvarez Arata