News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Including your pet this holiday season

While the holidays will look a little different for just about everyone this year, one thing remains the same: Pet owners consider their furry friends to be part of the family, which means including them in holiday traditions.

This holiday season, we’re especially grateful for our wonderful, sometimes quirky, loving fur kids who were a very good aid in a strange and stressful year. We can always count on our pets to inspire us to find joy in traditions, both old and new.

Spend quality time together: Between shopping, cooking, and decorating, the hustle and bustle of the season can be distracting. However, no matter what’s going on, it’s important to spend quality time with your pet each day. So, go on some extra-long walks with your dog and extend your cat’s playtime sessions. These activities may help you through situational anxiety brought on by shifting holiday routines due to COVID-19 restrictions.

When selecting holiday décor, remember to prioritize your pet’s safety above all. Steer clear of plants toxic to pets, like holly, poinsettias, and mistletoe; and avoid stringy items such as tinsel, curling ribbons, or other tree and gift trimmings that — when ingested — can cause intestinal blockage.

However, the holidays don’t have to be consumed in worry and safety concerns for your pets. There are many ways to get your furry friend involved in the fun and put everyone in a festive mood.

Here are some creative ideas for making your pet a part of the holiday celebrations:

Picking out that special Christmas tree is a fun outdoor activity that can be even more memorable if you take your furry friend with you. Many tree farms and tree lots will allow you to take your dog provided he is on a leash.

This year bring your pooch along in the car, turn on the holiday music, and hit the road in search of fabulous displays of Christmas lights. From main streets to backroads, it’s forecast that this year you might see plenty of old school décor, from lights around roofs to bright drive-through displays. The lights may not mean the same thing to him, but he’ll still like the excursion and being with his pack.

Getting the annual Christmas photo can often be a chore to accomplish but including your dog or cat in the Christmas family photo can liven up this activity and turn it into a fun family event.

Christmas Eve or Christmas morning — depending on your tradition — is a fun time highlighted by unwrapping gifts to see what Santa brought. Allow your furry friend to join in on the fun. Pamper your pet with wrapped toys and take a moment to watch as he joyfully unwraps his gifts or pulls out his favorite treats from his Christmas stocking.

Does anything say “holidays” more than baking delicious treats?

The abundance of fresh baked goodies is one of the most appealing parts of the Christmas season. Bake some healthy goodies for your dog so he doesn’t feel left out, and it may also prevent him from hijacking your baked goods.

Now that you have special holiday cookies just for your furry friend, play games together. For one game, your dog will use his communication skills. The other requires memory skills. Both are fun and mentally challenging for your dog.

Communication game: Hide treats while the dog is in another room. Bring the dog to the room and have him find the treats by following your pointing gesture.

Memory game: Hide treats while the dog is watching. Then remove your dog from the room for a short time. Return to the room and see if your dog can find all of the treats he saw you hide.

It’s not just people who love playing video games. Today’s cats can have a lot of fun with high-tech games. These games tend to feature fish, insects or mice that digitally crawl across the screen and respond to your cat pawing at the screen trying to catch them. It’s entertaining to watch cats become enthralled with screen time.

After all that you’ll both be tired, and the only thing better than snuggling up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book, is doing it together with your pet. Let your furry family member get close this season and keep you warm!


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