Essential Guide: The Best Christmas Gifts for Dogs 2018
Dare I say it...Christmas is nearly upon us and the last thing you want is to forget to buy the most important family member (your dog of course) some presents!
Christmas Gifts for Dogs
As luck would have it, here is a list of the best Christmas gifts for dogs that they will not only love, but that will also improve their physical health or mental well-being. I’ve split them into 5 categories so you’re certain to find the best present for your pampered pooch. What more could you ask for!
Pet tech gifts
We all love a new gadget (or at least I know I do!), but it’s all too easy to waste money on something that goes in a drawer after a weeks use, never to see the light of day again. Instead, get something that you will not only use, but will also help your dog stay fit and healthy.
Fitbark activity tracker
There’s no need for your dog to miss out on the latest tech gadgets out there. How about something that not only tracks your dog's activity levels but can also provide an early warning system to alert you to the fact that your dog might be becoming unwell?
Sound too good to be true? Well, this is exactly what the Fitbark 2 offers.
Think of it like a Fitbit activity tracker for dogs. The Fitbark 2 comes in a small, discrete package with a super cool bone design and lots of quick-change colored covers to choose from. From sunshine yellow to royal purple or rockstar grey, there’s a color and style for every occasion!
Once attached to your dog's collar they won’t even know it’s there, and that’s when the magic begins. The Fitbark 2 track how active and how much exercise your dog has had and then compares it to their normal scores as well as with other similar dogs. It also lets you know how well they are sleeping and when this is combined with activity levels you can get some incredibly useful health indicators.
Activity levels starting to fall and sleep becoming disturbed? They could be sick. Track the improvement in your dog's activity levels as an indicator that the arthritis treatment they have started is actually improving their comfort and quality of life. Has your itchy dog’s sleep quality started to drop? They might be having a flare up and be up all night scratching.
So as well as fun, this would be one Christmas gift guaranteed to help keep your dog as fit and healthy as possible!
Whistle GPS monitor
If you live in the USA and want to step things up a level then the Whistle 3 might be what you are looking for. As well as being an activity tracker, it is also a GPS monitor. This allows you to know exactly where your dog is and track their every movement. You can even set up safe spaces and alerts so that if your dog leaves their safe space you get notified immediately. Perfect if they break out of the yard (or heaven forbid get taken).
The downsides to the Whistle are that understandably, for GPS tracking, a subscription plan is needed and all that tech mean that the unit is larger than the Fitbark 2. Still, if GPS tracking is what you want then the Whistle is what your dog needs this Christmas!
Have you ever thought how boring a dog's life can be? Sitting waiting for you to come home, or waiting for you to stop and play with them or grab the lead and take them out. A lack of stimulation can cause a lot of behavioral problems, as well as have the potential to worsen diseases like dementia in older dogs. Keep your dog stimulated with these food puzzle gifts and their happiness will definitely improve.
A snuffle mat is a great way to make your dog work for their food, stretching out meal times and reducing over-eating. The concept is simple, you hide their biscuits in the mat (this is not an option for wet food feeders) and your dog has to rummage and snuffle their way into every nook and cranny to get their reward.
Think of this as an indoor version of simply throwing your dogs food over the lawn for them to then look for. It engages their nose and brain, providing mental stimulation and far more enjoyment at mealtimes compared to vacuuming up their dinner is 2.47 seconds flat.
Snuffle mats for dogs come in lots of different varieties from simple natural wool versions to more complex creations where you can vary what your dog has to do to get their food. These ones are a real puzzle!
You’ll still need to supervise meal times to be sure your dog doesn’t start eating their mat, as well as need to put them through the washing machine now and then to keep them hygienic. None-the-less, a snuffle mat could make the perfect gift for your dog this Christmas.
Do you feed your dog a wet rather than dry food but like the the idea of snuffle mats? Don’t worry, a Licki mat is the perfect alternative!
These rubber mats are designed to have a wet food or treat added (like peanut butter - every dogs favorite!). The ridges and fingers then make it a challenge for your dog to eat whatever tasty food you’ve added. While they are not looking for it, they have to work hard to get their tongue into every crevice and a Licki mat is bound to be their sole point of focus for quite some time. A perfect way to spread out mealtimes or distract an anxious dog during fireworks or thunderstorms.
The humble kong
No dog gift guide would be complete without a kong! These virtually indestructible rubber toys are perfect for stuffing with treats and providing hours of entertainment for your dog. If they suffer separation anxiety, a fear of fireworks, or just get left to their own devices for hours on end then you simply must get your dog a kong.
While some people will be happy to leave their dog unsupervised with a snuffle mat or licki pad, I would always worry about the potential for them to eat part of them which could then have the potential to cause serious issues. Get the right size and strength kong for your dog however and the chances of them destroying them are remote, to say the least.
Get one, it’s that simple!
For biscuit lovers, a treat ball is a potential alternative, These hollow balls can be filled with kibble and a hole meant that, when rolled, the biscuits slowly fall out. It is important to get the right size for your dog, too small and they may end up just chewing and destroying the ball itself. Too large and they may get their jaw stuck in the dispensing hole (mainly a problem for our tiny toy breeds).
Every dog enjoys different challenges and it may be that a treat ball is the challenge that they will enjoy the most.
Be safe, be seen
Christmas means winter and winter means dark evenings. This is no excuse not to take your dog out to exercise (your Fitbark might tell you off if you don’t head out!). It is vital though that your dog is visible so you can see where they are, other people can see your dog and make it less likely they get hit by a car or bike should they wander off (clearly a good recall is a must for any off lead dog)
A simple reflective vest might not be the most fashionable accessory, but it’s certainly one of the best ways to make sure your dog won’t be missed. They are light-weight, come in a range of sizes and are super visible to any traffic. If you are in a dark field by yourself, however, you still wont be able to keep track of your dog.
A step up is a vest with built-in flashing LEDs. Turn them on and your dog will be lit up like a Christmas tree!
Don’t like the idea of built-in lights and want something more heavy duty than a reflective vest? You could instead choose a reflective harness, like these high-quality ones from Julius-K9. As well as reflective trim and detailing, it also has a built-in torch holder and, of course, comes in a range of colors! These harnesses are built to last a lifetime.
Combine your power-harness with a light up collar and again, visibility won’t be a problem! There is, of course, an even simpler option, and that is to get a clip-on collar light. These are cheap and cheerful but are only going to be visible from in front of your dog.
Definitely better than nothing but if you’re serious about making sure your dog can be seen on the dark nights around Christmas then these lights are best used in combination with one of the other options.
A touch of luxury
There is nothing wrong with a little indulgence and luxury over Christmas, especially if it improves your dogs quality of life.
Memory foam bed
What’s more luxurious than a bed that contours to your body? The cold weather of winter can mean that your senior dog becomes more stiff than normal. Of course, it’s vital to start a proper treatment program, but one part of this can be buying them a soft, padded bed. Even better is a memory foam bed that wraps around sore joints, removing pressure points and helping to ease any aches and pains.
Do you have a young dog or one who doesn’t suffer from stiffness and pain? They still deserve a comfortable bed, don’t they? You’ll want to get a waterproof cover too so that they stay clean, dry and last a lifetime.
Depending on where you live, Christmas means Winter, and Winter means freezing or wet or both! What your dog needs then is a toasty warm jacket. This is especially important if your dog is not equipped with their own winter coat (an extreme example being a whippet with no body fat and short hair!) or is just small and so more likely to get wet through or succumb to the cold.
For mild weather you can get away with something that just covers their trunk. When the temperature really drops however, you want something like this one which also covers the neck. This is really important as a lot of big blood vessels run close to the skin here and without insulation can result in a lot of heat loss.
Christmas is all about giving. Maybe your dog has everything they could possibly want. Maybe they have stopped believing in Santa. Maybe they would be delighted with nothing more than a tasty pack of dental chews!
Rather than splurge on something that won’t get used or you don’t really need, consider instead making a donation to charity.
You could give your local shelter a ring and see if there is anything they are desperate for. Instead, you might want to pick any charity that is working towards a goal you feel passionately about. There are so many out there but one veterinary charity that stands out for me is Streetvet, a team of dedicated veterinarians who help care for the pets of homeless people. The bond between the homeless and their pets is profound, it may be that their dog is the only thing keeping them going. You can donate here + they even have an Amazon wishlist if you’d rather buy a much needed item.
Whichever charity you choose, it is one gift you can be certain will make a huge difference.
Our Pets Health: because they’re family