As a part of the family, your pooch may be favored with goodies and toys during the gift-giving season. But don’t interfere with your dog’s holiday pleasures by inadvertently giving it presents that could cause intestinal or airway problems. Here are a few suggestions I have collected over the years.

  • Always match the gift (both in size and material) to your dog. For example, it’s not a good idea to give a young, “mouthy” Labrador a small, flimsy latex toy or wafer-thin rawhide chip.
  • Avoid toys with attached strings. If your dog pulls off and ingests a stringy object, it can pleat the intestines and may even slice through the intestinal wall.
  • Think twice about buying toys that have squeakers, bells, or detachable eyes. Foreign bodies in the G.I. tract may pass naturally or may not, requiring surgical removal.
  • Parcel out food treats in conservative quantities so your pet doesn’t vomit or develop diarrhea. Given his druthers, Rover will eagerly scarf up palatable doggie delicacies without restraint.
  • Always supervise your dog’s behavior around new toys, no matter how appropriate they may seem. Should any pet show signs of possession aggression toward man or beast, that toy must disappear, and a discussion should be had with a capable trainer.

Aside from a regular winter walk, perhaps the best gift you can give your dog is a stylish new leash, a comfortable new collar, and a shiny new ID tag. Happy holidays.

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