If you still need to buy your pet a holiday present, you need to buckle down and get serious—Christmas is right around the corner! But, if you’ve been burned in the past by a gift you felt sure your pet would love (e.g., the flopping fish that was truly a flop), you may feel uncertain about your giving instincts. 

If that sounds like you, Mill Creek Animal Hospital is taking a practical approach this winter with our holiday upgrade gift guide—we’re looking at your pet’s current everyday items and suggesting how to elevate them to the next level. So, put that toy promising “hours of entertainment” back on the shelf, and check out our useful holiday pet gift ideas that won’t disappoint. 

Your pet’s bed

Dogs spend half their life asleep and another 30 percent loafing around. Cats sleep an impressive 15 to 20 hours per day. And, at least 30 to 50 percent of dogs and cats are affected by degenerative joint disease (i.e., arthritis) during their lifetime. The quality of your pet’s bed can significantly impact their physical health and mobility. 

If your pet’s current bed looks a bit flat, you should upgrade. Pet beds made with memory or orthopedic foam provide pets with joint support, rather than collapsing like the poly-fill stuffed beds found at most pet supply stores. Brands like Big Barker, Orvis, and Underdog are designed to provide support and a restful sleep, thus improving your dog’s mobility. While the beds are an investment, they may pay for themselves by reducing your pet’s need for pain medication, joint supplements, and treatments such as laser therapy.

Your dog’s collar

What’s that musty smell? Your dog’s collar? Collars accumulate dirt, oil, and moisture, and can get rather funky if they aren’t regularly washed. Aging collars can also show general wear and tear, such as fraying, splitting, and color fading. Faux leather and plastic buckles can crack, leaving your pet vulnerable to escaping without their collar and tags. 

Biothane dog collars are a great upgrade—their material is water-repellent, fade resistant, and does not absorb odors. They also come in bright colors for improved visibility. 

For the adventurous pet, high-tech GPS tracking collars, such as the Fi Smart Collar for dogs and PawTrack for cats, offer activity monitoring and location data, and can help enormously should your pet go missing. 

Your cat’s water bowl

In general, cats prefer moving water over still water in a bowl, which can quickly become stale and accumulate bacteria. Still water sources may be one reason why cats generally do not drink enough water, leaving them prone to dehydration, which can impact their kidney health. 

Replace your cat’s boring bowl with a pet drinking fountain. Flowing water inhibits bacterial growth, attracts cats with its sound and movement, and has better oxygenation for improved taste and smell. The PetSafe Seaside stainless steel fountain has a quiet bubbling action, uses carbon filtration, and is easy to disassemble and clean.

Your pet’s food bowl

While we’re at it, let’s consider your pet’s food bowl—your pet’s wild ancestors were hunters and foragers who spent their days searching for food. Domesticated pets have inherited many of those instincts, which they practice through play. Capitalize on those instincts with various toys and feeding strategies to nourish pets physically and mentally. Some fun options include stuffed Kongs, pet puzzles, food-dispensing balls, snuffle mats, and foraging toys that can be hidden throughout the home. 

Your dog’s retractable leash

Dog owners love retractable leashes, but veterinarians, trainers, and pet care professionals despise these leashes because of their numerous safety risks, including lacerations, entanglement, strangulation, whiplash, leash breakage, and poor handle control. 

We know this one may be hard for owners, but this dangerous device needs upgrading. Biothane long lines or drag lines are durable leashes made in various widths and lengths up to 50 feet. They are too cumbersome for everyday potty trips, but are easier to grip, and can give your dog a sense of freedom in large open areas. We recommend using a harness with a long line to prevent torquing your dog’s neck.

Your pet’s old sweater

That same old sweater that you pull out for your pet year after year is bound to be a bit threadbare. Functional pet clothing is more than fashion—clothing can help injured, convalescing, and senior pets stay warm, conserve energy, and reduce joint stiffness. 

The best winter wear should wrap around your dog’s chest and cover their  hip joints. Ensure your pet can move freely without restriction before allowing them to wear the clothing unsupervised. Check out Ruffwear and Hurrta for durable lightweight outerwear.

Your pet’s toys

If your pet’s toys have taken a beating—or a shredding—refresh their inventory. Old toys can harbor bacteria and mildew, and broken pieces may be accidentally ingested. Look for long-lasting, American-made toys made from non-toxic and sustainable materials. Our favorite brands include Kong, Goughnuts, WestPaw, and Planet Dog.

Your furry best friend deserves to be gifted like one. And while your wrapped present will never measure up to their daily gift of unconditional love, remember—it’s the thought that counts. This year, you’ve really done your homework and given their gift lots of thought. 

But, the best gift of all will be your resolution to improve your pet’s wellness care. Start the New Year right—schedule your pet’s next appointment at Mill Creek Animal Hospital.