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A part of the holiday season is the giving of gifts for family members, and for many people, that includes their four-legged animal companions.


“Some pet owners may enjoy buying lavishly priced items such as gourmet treats and fancy collars, but pets will probably appreciate much more affordable gifts just as much,” said Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, Oklahoma State University Extension veterinarian and director of continuing education for the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine.


Biggs recommended owners give practical gifts that will help ensure the animal lives a long and healthy life. Possibilities include:


  • A trip to the veterinarian. Routine checkups can spot a potential health issue before it becomes a serious problem.
  • Give the gift of time. Make it a point to provide extended play session, perhaps with an old favorite toy. Many pets are social animals and crave loving attention, plus extended play gives them extra exercise.
  • Microchipping is an inexpensive way to ensure a pet and owner are reunited in the event the animal ever gets lost or stolen. If the pet is already microchipped, make sure the contact information on file is current, especially the phone number and home address.


Specialty treats seen in a pet store may be hard to resist, but it is best to keep furry family members on their regular diet.


“Pet owners may think they’re being nice to their dog or cat by giving them these fancy treats or offering them table scraps from a scrumptious holiday meal, but such foods may actually make the pet sick or add extra pounds,” Biggs said. “Instead, give the gift of good nutrition. Consult with a veterinarian about developing a sound year-round food plan for the animal.”


Ultimately, the best gift of all is lots of love. Shower the animal with the affection and attention it deserves, Biggs said.

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