Veterinarian Offers Advice On Safe Pet Treats & Toys For Under The Christmas Tree

Cat and a dog huddled under a blanket, and a pile of Christmas presents
Gladskikh Tatiana\sarsmis / Shutterstock

It’s the time of year when everyone is buying presents for either everyone they’ve ever met, or just the closest family members. Many people these days like to include their pets, whichever list they may choose. But at this time of year, it’s important to remember that not everything is pet-friendly, and some items may even cause your furry friends serious harm.

Veterinarian Dr. Geri Carlson from the Charlottesville Veterinary Hospital has shared that during the festive season, when ribbons and chocolates become prevalent around the home, it’s especially important to make sure your four-legged children can’t access anything that might harm them.

As CBS News reported, Carlson warned that certain items marketed for dogs are also not safe for pups, or at least not safe for all pups. When it comes to chew toys, size matters if you want to avoid choking hazards.

“The main thing with toys is to make sure they’re the proper size,” said Carlson. “Don’t give a tiny ball to a big dog.”

Rawhide bones are another hazard Carlson has warned against. Not only are they not really compatible with a dog’s digestive system and can result in blocked intestines, but they too can be a choking hazard.

“If they slurp up the rawhide or get it soft enough it can actually block the throat, and your dog could choke,” said Carlson.

One pet store owner Kim Matsko says that she always checks the safety of the ingredients her products are made with before putting them on the shelves over concerns for dogs’ health.

“There’s a lot of chemicals out there, there’s a lot of toxins out there and all of that stuff can lead to long-term health issues,” said Matsko.

She also offered her advice for one popular brand of dog toys: Kong.

“One of my favorite things to do with the Kong is, stuff it with some peanut butter or stuff it with some applesauce,” said Matsko. “Put it in the freezer and you can keep your dog busy for hours while your hosting family and doing family events.”

Carlson also warned about the dangers of grain-free dog foods for dogs that don’t suffer with a grain allergy.

“Veterinarians at Tufts University have been seeing an increase in heart disease,” said Carlson. “And it seems to be related to some of these boutique diets, so the grain free, the exotic ingredients.”

Matsko also added that she makes sure grain-free foods still have all the nutrients dogs need in their diets, even for dogs who need to be fed grain-free food because of allergies.

While many people have gifts under the tree for their fur-babies, there are usually gifts for human recipients too. There are certain things he has said are imperative to avoid causing dangers to pets in the household.

“Especially at Christmas time, avoid things with strings, ribbons,” said Carlson. “Those are all things, especially cats, that they will eat and they can get what’s called a linear foreign body. So they can just swallow something long and stringy and it can get stuck in their intestine.”