How to pick the best pet toys for the holidays
Your holiday shopping list would not be complete without a present for your canine or feline family member. You can find aisles full of cute toys for dogs and cats at pet stores, kids’ toy stores, discount stores like Target and WalMart and on shopping websites.
Consumer Reports offers some shopping tips.
Toys for Your Dog
Toys are vital to a dog’s health. They help to ward off boredom, prevent poor behavior problems and strengthen jaws. They can also keep a dog’s teeth clean.
• Play-with-me toys. Choose toys that let you interact with your dog, perhaps allowing you to play some form of Frisbee or a gentle version of tug-ofwar (if your dog is very aggressive, skip tug-of-war). Such games can give your dog a good cardio workout. Remember that size matters. Stick with a small Frisbee (or something similar) for little dogs and pups and a tougher Frisbee (or something bigger) for bigger dogs.
• Keep-me-busy toys. Look for tough toys like Kongs that you can fill with treats. They might be the only ones your dog plays with by himself, trying to extract the goodies. Softer versions are good for young pups and older dogs.
• Calm-me-down toys. Consumer Reports suggests considering giving your dog a stuffed animal. Some dogs seem to find it calming to chew on toys like a stuffed animal or rope knot, says Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. But forget about buying your dog a stuffed animal if your pooch is the search-and-destroy type that tears out (and eats) stuffing. Such toys can be dangerous. Be sure to toss out any snuggly animal toys when the insides start to come out.
Toys for Your Cat
•Cats will play with just about anything, so you don’t need many toys to make them happy. Even a paper bag (with the handles cut off for safety) or a small cardboard box can provide hours of fun. Rotate your cat toys every few days just to keep things new.
• Play-with-me toys. Do get toys you’ll want to play with, too. Some cats will play fetch with small balls. Cat dancers -- usually sticks or mitts with things that dangle -- are tantalizing and provide great jumping exercise. Toys that dangle from doorknobs are also fine as long as any elastic is well enclosed and there is no risk that the cat will eat the string. (Don’t leave toys with strings, feathers, ribbons or other objects that can be swallowed lying around; that can cause choking or intestinal blockages.)
• Keep-me-busy toys. Consumer Reports recommends trying catnip toys. They encourage play when you’re not around, which can keep cats away from stuff you don’t want destroyed.
• Calm-me-down toys. Do see if your cat likes carrying around a stuffed toy he can cuddle with and bite. Or your cat might prefer fabric toys that make a nice crunch, like a chew ring or fish.