Holidays are a favourite time to celebrate with friends and family, and that includes our dogs and cats. Whether it’s gifts or special treats, humans aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the season. Here are five ways you can safely share holiday festivities with your four-legged family member.
Make DIY PAWnaments
If you like seasonal decorations, why not make a homemade ornament to honor your dog or cat? If you’re baking for the holidays, you probably have the ingredients on hand to whip up a simple dough ornament personalized with your best pal’s paw.
1. Preheat your oven to 200° F.
2. Combine 2 cups of flour with ½ cup of salt and about a cup of water; mix well.
3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes; if it’s too dry, add water. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour. Roll out the dough about ¼ to ½ inch thick, cut a circle and gently press your pet’s paw in the center.
Prefer other shapes? Use holiday cookie cutters that are large enough to accommodate your pet’s paw print. Be sure to clean the paw afterward so your pet isn’t tempted to lick off the dough.
Use a pencil to make a hole at the top of your ornament for hanging, then bake for 1-2 hours. If it’s not completely dried, put the ornament back in for another hour. Baking times vary depending on the size and thickness of your PAWnament. Larger ornaments will take a longer time.
Tip: Let your paw print air dry for a day before you bake it. After the ornament cools, decorate it with your favorite paint, stickers, glitter, etc. If you want, write your pet’s name under the paw print and string a colourful ribbon or pipe cleaner through the hole.
Hang your pet’s holiday paw from a tree, next to the mistletoe, over stockings or attach it to a holiday package. PAWnaments make great gifts for others, too. To make more, increase the amounts of flour, salt and water in the same ratios as above.
Wear Pugly Sweaters
You may not participate in an ugly sweater contest, but that doesn’t mean your pet can’t. Stores on and offline offer a wide range of holiday regalia and gear, including fun (and cute) sweaters designed specifically for pets. Naturally, avoid garments with small buttons and dangling decorations that can be a choking hazard, and be sure the outfit doesn’t restrict your pet’s ability to breathe or move comfortably. Holiday dress-up makes for great Instagram photo-ops and family greeting cards. You can even look for a pet-friendly mall Santa who will pose with your festively dressed dog or cat, and use that as your annual holiday card. Santa pics also make adorable keepsake mementos you can frame for yourself and loved ones.
Celebrate Yuletide, Outside
Dogs love walks so take yours when you head to the woods or tree farm to get a holiday tree. Weather and health permitting, just take your best bud out for a long hike to enjoy the changing season. If your pet loves people, you can take your dog or cat out caroling or join other neighborhood pets for a holiday parade around the block. Cats can be leashed as well if you don’t want to carry yours, or you can take your dog or cat out in a pet-friendly stroller. Since your cat might be tired of staring out the window at the neighbor’s lights, why not take her with you in the car to tour holiday lights throughout your town?
Bring Joy to Others
Holidays usually bring out the best in humans, from donating coats and serving meals at soup kitchens to making monetary donations to charities. This year you might want to donate food, treats, toys and other supplies to your local animal shelter. Your pet can even join in by participating in a fundraising walk with other pet parents or by comforting children and the elderly in hospitals and senior homes. Check with organizations like the ASPCA and local charities to see how your pet can help.
Give Presents. Be Present.
Your dog or cat is most likely the easiest family member to buy gifts for. Whether it’s a much-loved treat or toy, there are many ways to fill your pet’s stocking with joyful gifts. If you wrap the gifts, help your dog or cat tear them open because some holiday papers and decorations can be choking hazards.
Perhaps even more than Christmas catnip or a squeaky bone, the best gift you can give your pet is your time. Take a break from work and other family commitments to play and bond with your dog or cat. Why not practice old tricks or teach new ones to entertain holiday guests? Whether there’s a fire burning in the fireplace or the Yule Log looping on your screens, be sure to spend time curled up on the couch with your best pal. Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday with all of your loved ones! Check out more ways to include your pets in holiday festivities.
And, to all a good treat. Fill your pet’s stocking with fun and tasty BLUE™ treats.