I can’t count the times I’ve heard someone say “My pet is definitely a part of the family.” Some people, myself included, even say that the pet is “like a child” to them. No, that doesn’t mean we think they are children. We know the difference between human offspring and pets. Yet there are also many similarities between raising kids and raising pets. There’s no reason our pets can’t be an integral part of our family unit, and what better time to strengthen that special human-animal bond than during the holiday season?
For many of us, the holiday season is filled with family traditions – activities and events that make this magical time of the year a pure delight for kids and parents alike. That’s all well and good, but if your dog or cat is a part of your family, why not think of some ways you can include them in your favorite holiday traditions?
Fido and Fluffy might not know what the holiday season is all about, but they do know they love you and enjoy the time you spend with them. Isn’t that what counts? Our pets probably won’t get miffed if there are no gifts for them under the tree and no stocking hung by the chimney with care, but what harm does it do to include them? None at all! Plus, including the family pets in your holiday plans can create some wonderful, happy memories for your family.
Below are some ways you can make the holiday season fun for your pet. But don’t stop there! I’m certain that with a little thought, almost any tradition your family enjoys during this time of year can be modified to include your four legged family member. 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.
Fill a Christmas stocking with CANIDAE treats and small toys you know your pet will love. Remember earlier when I said a pet might not care if they didn’t get a Christmas stocking? That’s not always true. Many pets do seem to understand that what’s in that stocking was put there just for them, and they have fun digging out the little gifts.
Wrap up a few gifts and put them under the tree with all the other presents for your family members. If you have a dog that likes to investigate all the presents and would rip open a squeaking package in a heartbeat, you might want to keep it stashed away until it’s time to open presents. Same goes for kitties who love catnip toys.
I have seen dogs ripping into their gifts with an exuberance that rivals any young child on Christmas morning, so it’s pretty clear that some dogs do enjoy the activity of opening presents. Your cat may need some help opening her gift – unless it contains the aforementioned catnip toy, in which case it will practically open itself.
The best part about buying gifts for our pets is that they are thrilled with pretty much anything you give them. Never has the phrase “it’s the thought that counts” been more true!
Treat your pet to a special Christmas Dinner. For my cats’ holiday meal, I usually put some cooked turkey or chicken on top of their CANIDAE cat food. They always love their CANIDAE and scarf up every last morsel, but the meat brings out their wild side. It turns my normally docile housecats into wild beasts who ravenously devour their “prey” and heaven help any fingers accidentally caught in the fray.
Whatever you decide to give your pet for their special dinner, just remember to factor that into their daily food rations. Bear in mind also, it’s not a good idea to let your pet sample the food from your own holiday dinner. Human food wreaks havoc on an animal’s digestive system, and some can even be toxic.
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 grumble about dressing up for this photo, but they’ll enjoy posing with their pet. Dressing up your dog or cat for the photo, however, is optional. If your pet doesn’t mind wearing reindeer antlers or a Santa hat, go for it.
When thinking of ways to include your pet in your holiday plans, the important thing to remember is the purpose: it’s all about bonding with your pet and creating joyful memories for your family.
Top photo by Cheryl Reed
Middle photo by Calgrin
Bottom photo by Stella Deer
Read more articles by Julia Williams