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Pet Toys: Great Christmas Ideas for Pet Lovers

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12/01/2009 - Christmas is a'comin, and when you're out shopping for the kids and other family members, don't forget the family pet!

There are many great pet toys out there, but there are also factors to consider when purchasing a pet toy. Primary consideration should be safety. Just as you want kids to be safe with the toys with which they play, so should safety be the number one factor when choosing a pet's toy. Therefore, be certain not to give a toy that can be broken into pieces and potentially cause choking or get stuck in a pet's throat. Remember that toys provide exercise for your pet, so they're not just fun things; they also lend a hand in keeping your pet healthy through exercise.

Toys should be durable as well as fun. Here are a few ideas:

Kong toys – these great dog toys are make of hard rubber and can be filled with biscuits or a specialty-made 'goo' (like squeezable cheese from a can). This toy offers the thrill of "finding the scent" and an edible reward! It also provides your pet with chewable fun, saving your shoes and furniture!

Rope toys – another great dog toy that allows you and your dog to play tug-of-war (or your dog and its other four-footed friend!). You can also play fetch with rope toys.

Rubber balls and rubber rings – great for tossing and playing fetch with your dog. However, make sure the toy is not too small for your dog's mouth and that it won't come apart easily, creating a choking hazard.

Plush and Squeaky toys – these can also be used for tug-of-war or fetch; sometimes dogs just love to chew on them. However, choking hazards of which to be aware with these toys include the stuffing so you need to monitor your pet with these types of toys.

Play mice – cats LOVE these toys, especially those dipped in catnip (some dogs like them, too, so watch for that!) Some are made with a string so you and your cat can play "catch-me-if-you-can"; cats love to stalk things, so this type of game engages your cat's 'wild spirit' so to speak (think of a bobcat stalking and pouncing on a rabbit).

Laser pointer – cats enjoy chasing the little red dot around (just make sure you don't shine it in their eyes!). Again, think cougar in the wild, stalking, chasing, pouncing.

Small balls – cats enjoy batting and chasing things, and there are rubber and other types of balls created just for them. However, since these toys are small, you'll need to keep close watch to make sure other pets (like dogs) and children don't pick up these toys and put them in their mouths.

Feather-and-pole toys– these toys provide great fun for both cat and cat owner plus they give your feline great exercise with the jumping, batting, and catching that goes on.

There are many wonderful toys available for pets and pet owners to enjoy together, or for the pet to enjoy by itself. So, when you're out and about doing your holiday shopping these next few weeks, remember the love and devotion our pets give us and don't forget to put a wonderful toy or two into your pet's stocking this year!

May you and your pet enjoy a safe and special holiday season!


Gayle Irwin is an author and speaker with a deep affection for pets. She is the author of two children's books: Sage's Big Adventure (2007) and Sage Learns to Share (2009). She is a former journalist and humane and conservation educator. Her publication credits include a story in a recent edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul called Lessons Learned from the Dog. She is the proud "pet parent" of two adopted dogs, who serve as characters in her books. For more information about her writing and speaking, visit www.sagestory.com and www.gaylemirwin.com. Her books make great gifts for children and adults!

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