Christmas Gift Ideas for your Dog
We can all go over the top at Christmas time when it comes to buying presents, and many of us will buy gifts for our dogs to open on Christmas morning – they are an important member of the family after all. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration for your wonderful dogs, we want to share with you a few suggestions of some tried and tested gifts that have many SeBPRA dogs’ paw of approval.
If you’re shopping for Christmas presents on Amazon, don’t forget you can nominate SeBPRA as your Amazon Smile charity and help us raise money to help more dogs while spoiling yours! Instructions on how to nominate us can be found here
There is an endless selection of dog toys available to buy, from soft cuddly toys, squeaky toys, to tough reinforced toys for notorious chewers. If you are buying any for your dog, you know your dog best so try and make sure they’re suitable for your dog’s personality. Remember some dogs will destroy a soft squeaky toy in seconds and any accessories or stuffing they pull off the toy could cause an obstruction.
Most dog owners will have probably owned a traditional Kong at some point, they’re ideal for popping some treats in or some wet food and letting your dog have a go getting their reward out.
Along with the traditional Kong many of you will know, there are a lot of variations on this toy that can provide excellent enrichment for your dog. These include:
Not every dog is ball mad but for those that are there are many SeBPRA adopters who use Chuckit balls* for their dogs. They are high bounce, durable, have the option of a squeaker and even float! (*other brands are available)
Kong jumblers are often a hit, these are basically a ball within a ball and are great for dogs who enjoy more vigorous play.
You can also get bouncy balls with ridged silicone teeth areas on the outside that will hold any small treats in for your dog to discover, like this one.
Tuff snakes/snack snakes
These are made of a rubber material and have a space along the underneath which you can stuff treats into. They can sometimes come with a squeaker in the head section too.
Invest in a snuffle mat for your dog. You can buy these pre-made, make your own, or even do what a few of the SeBPRA team do and buy a hanging planter mat to use as one. Simply scatter some treats in and encourage your dog to find them – they will soon get the hang of it. Plus, the act of sniffing for treats provides your dog with much needed mental stimulation.
Enrichment toys and games
There are many puzzle toys with moveable parts available for you to hide treats in and with some encouragement your dog can solve the puzzle to claim the reward. Some of these toys are worth the money but whether it is or not can depend very much on your dog’s level of interest in it. Enrichment is so important for our dogs but it needn’t cost much to set up toys and games that your dog will love:
- Cardboard boxes – just like children, a lot of dogs love a cardboard box! Stuff some empty cardboard boxes with shredded waste paper and scatter a few treats in, add a little encouragement, and let your dog do the rest. Egg boxes are great for this.
- Toilet roll holders – same as cardboard boxes, empty toilet roll or kitchen roll holders can make idea ‘hide and treat’ toys. Simply add some treats into the core, fold the ends over, and give it to your dog.
- Empty plastic bottles/milk cartons – we mentioned the popular tumble toys before, well you can make one yourself with empty bottles or milk cartons. Rinse them out, cut some strategic slits in the bottles (careful there are no sharp edges that could hurt your dog), add some treats, and let your dog get them out again.
- Hide and treat games – use empty plastic cups or cones to hide treats under and let your dog go find them. Another great one is to scatter some treats in a muffin tray and cover them with your dog’s tennis balls.
- Towel play – a very easy beginner enrichment game to play. Simply scatter treats across an open towel, then roll the towel up. Encourage your dog to use their nose/paw to unroll the towel and as they do, they will discover their treats.
Lickimats are a great way of giving your dogs any ‘wet’ treats to help them last longer and provide a wonderful enrichment activity. Simply smear on the selected treat and watch them go. These are so wonderful because the act of licking releases endorphins in dogs and can help calm them down. These mats are also freezable so once topped you can always pop them in the freezer for an hour to make your dog’s treat last even longer! Some tips for what you can add spread on your lickimat are:
- Mashed banana with peanut butter (small amount and make sure the peanut butter contains no Xylitol or any other artificial sweeteners)
- Mashed vegetables – cauliflower, sweet potato, peas
- Natural/Greek yogurt (make sure it contains no flavourings and is Xylitol free!)
- Minced meat
- Mashed salmon/tuna
Ideas for chewers
Some dogs LOVE to chew, and if this is what your dog wants to do then we should actively encourage it. The trick is to find them something of their own they can safely enjoy chewing so they leave your own items and furniture intact. Here are some great ideas for safe chewing:
Antlers – if your dog is a heavy chewer, they don’t come more robust than an antler. These chews are long-lasting and won’t splinter or stain your upholstery.
Buffalo horns – another long-lasting chew and it won’t stain your carpets!
Bones – uncooked bones that will not splinter are an ideal treat for your dog. You should also avoid any pork bones, rib bones or bones smaller than your dog’s mouth as these can splinter and get stuck in your dog’s throat. Some personal favourites include beef knuckle bones, deer leg bones and ostrich bones!
Yak chews – these are basically a hard bar of milk that your dog will love chomping on. One yak chew can last some dogs weeks, but from personal experience I have seen an extremely determined and greedy Labrador demolish an XL one in a few hours. A good tip with yak chews is that when they get to the stage where they’re quite small (few inches) and you may be worried about your dog choking on them, take it off your dog and stick it in the microwave for 20 seconds to a minute. The yak chew puffs up like giant wotsit – it will stink of cheese when you do this! Then simply leave it to cool before giving it back to your dog again. The texture of it now is basically like a giant crisp so they can finish it without you worrying they might try to eat it in one big lump.
Wood Chews- natural wood like olive wood or coffee wood chews can be big hits with some dogs, especially if they are partial to a nibble on furniture!
Lots of us like to buy treats for our pet at Christmas time. Our tips for any treats you may be buying is to keep them 100% natural! Some treats may confusingly claim to be natural on their packaging but a quick glance at the ingredients and you will see that they aren’t 100% natural.
Some great treat ideas for your dogs include:
- Ears – cow, pig, rabbit, lamb etc.
- Tripe sticks
- Chicken feet
- Dried fish cubes
- Boiled chicken
- Vegetables – carrots, cooked sweet potato, peas, sprouts
- Fruit – banana, blueberries, apple, cucumber
We would always advise any dog owners to avoid buying rawhide treats for their dogs. These chews can pose a serious risk of choking or blockages, and there are lots of chemicals involved in preserving and colouring these chews.
Please don’t forget to feed treats in moderation, and don’t let them over indulge – no one wants their lovely dog to get a poorly stomach on Christmas day of all days.
Remember if you are buying for your dogs, you don’t have to spend a small fortune on endless toys and treats. A few select gifts can provide plenty of stimulation and excitement for your dog, and some may feel overwhelmed if they have too many gifts to open on Christmas morning. So please keep an eye on their spoons – let them participate in opening gifts if they choose to, and give them some time and space to play and enjoy any new toys you give them. The act of just unwrapping their presents can be an exciting treat in itself for our dogs. So, it may be you end up saving gifts for them to open another day if they’re starting to get a bit too excited – that is fine, spread their Christmas gifts over days if that is what works for them.