Holidays are stressful, and sometimes we get so caught up in the whirlwind that we put our pets’ needs on the back burner. Making time for your pets during the holidays can strengthen your bond, and provide a much-needed respite from the craziness. Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs believes that celebrating with your pets can be fun and enriching for the whole family, so here are some ideas to get you started.

#1: Send out pet-themed holidays cards

Family holiday cards are always a hit, and a bonus if you’re wearing matching pajamas. Enlist a friend to help you take the photos. Set up a fun holiday scene for the background—you can purchase a backdrop from websites like Amazon, or use a decorated area in your home, like a fireplace or staircase. Whether you’re a family of one or 10, your pets will appreciate the together time and the attention during the photoshoot.

#2: Dress your pets in festive gear

Get your pet some holiday PJ’s for the card, a sweater for your ugly sweater party, or a festive collar with a bell or bow to celebrate the holidays. Many cold-sensitive pets enjoy wearing warm winter clothing, and your pet can double as a walking decoration to get everyone into the holiday spirit. 

#3: Gift them holiday-themed toys and chews

Use the holidays to refresh your toy stash and give your pet new play opportunities. You’ll find a plethora of options, including holiday-themed plush toys, balls, decorated chews, rope toys, antlers, and interactive treat dispensers, in any pet store at this time of year. Choose a toy type that appeals to your pet to provide enrichment during holiday gatherings and beyond. 

#4: Make gift-giving fun for your pet

Does your pet enjoy shredding paper? Let them open their own wrapped gifts this year. Use non-foil paper and supervise your pet to ensure they don’t ingest the wrapping, and then watch the fun! For cats, pieces of wrapping paper rolled into balls make a fun batting toy. Don’t let pets have any ribbon or string, which can cause intestinal obstructions.

#5: Make a pet-safe holiday meal

Letting your pet take part in holiday meals can result in stomach upset, toxicity, or a trip to the emergency hospital, but you can make them their own special meal. White-meat, skinless, plain turkey and cooked plain vegetables, such as carrots or potatoes, are easy to digest and something special for your pet. You can also bake pet-safe holiday cookies using one of many easy-to-find recipes online. 

#6: Play in the snow with your pets

Many pets enjoy snow, despite the cold that comes with it. Make the snow more fun by playing tag, chase, or throwing a ball. Indoor/outdoor cats can enjoy the snow too, so let them join in the fun. Smaller pets, or those with a short hair coat, may appreciate a sweater or coat to spend more time outside, or you can carry or tow them on a sled ride. 

#7: Donate to a pet charity

Spread some joy by focusing on helping pets in need. You can donate to a shelter or rescue, foster a pet, or volunteer your time to help homeless or needy pets have a happy holiday season. 

#8: Take your pet shopping

While you’re running around town shopping, consider taking your pet. Several warehouse style chains allow pets in their stores, which can make the experience fun for everyone. Social, outgoing dogs appreciate meeting new people and exploring a new space, and you can check a few boxes off your list in the process.

#9: Enjoy the holiday lights with your pet

If your pet enjoys car rides, they’ll love going for a ride to look at some holiday lights. Local organizations or neighborhoods may offer drive-through light shows that you will enjoy and that will stimulate and fascinate your pet.

#10: Spend some quality time with your pet

What are the holidays all about, if not family, love, and togetherness? If you have a few days off around the holidays, use some of your extra time to shower your pet with love. Go for an extra walk, have some playtime in the house, or snuggle up for a Hallmark movie marathon. 

The holidays provide many opportunities for fun and festivities with your pet. If you need more ideas, or if holiday fun goes awry, call the team at Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs to schedule a visit or consultation.