You've found the perfect gift for that special someone. You searched doggedly, and it's the cat's meow -- that's right, it's a gift for your pet.
Be careful that your ideal gift is also one that won't harm your pet.
- You don't want to give dogs or cats any toys they can rip apart. They can swallow a piece and either choke on it or have trouble passing it. In some cases, surgery is needed to remove an object. As a result, hard toys -- such as a plastic bone for a dog -- are better than soft rubber toys.
- Keep in mind the size and strength of the animal. A large dog such as a Rottweiler has more jaw power than a Yorkie, and can rip a toy more easily. Small balls, even if they're hard and can't be ripped, can sometimes slip down a large animal's throat.
- Remove the noise-making piece from any squeaky toys. The ``squeaker'' is quite small and easy to ingest if the toy breaks apart.
- The toys you buy at the pet store are nontoxic. But if you're using a homemade toy that isn't intended for pet play, make sure it's constructed of nonhazardous material.
- The poinsettia plant, which is popular around holiday time, is very dangerous to cats and some small breeds of dogs. Its milky substance is toxic and can be fatal if ingested. Keep the plant out of reach of pets.
- Though not a toy, anti-freeze is also extremely toxic to pets. Don't keep containers around the house, where a pet could chew through them.
- While you may be tempted to give in when your dog or cat looks up at the dinner table with begging eyes, don't get into the habit of feeding pets human food. They generally don't digest it well, and could develop problems with their kidneys or pancreas.
If you want to give them a treat, try animal biscuits. After all, you don't want to end up with, as the saying goes, one sick puppy.