The season of giving is upon us. No matter what or how you celebrate, we’re sure that you include your adored beasts in the festivities.
In our house, we have an advent calendar that the dogs share – and they wait to open their little window every morning!
We also plan fun things throughout the holidays to include them! It might mean a drive through the community to see the holiday lights, some seasonal baking, or fun get-togethers with friends and family (furry and non-furry).
Today, to get ready for the festive season, and as we close out 2023, let’s take some time each day to think about the perfect gift for our precious 4-legged family members. Some of these gifts require a little financial output. Others require a little creativity. Some are just time. There’s something on this list for everyone!
12 Days of Holiday Gifts for Our Animals
Day #1: A Little Gift Giving
This is one super easy.
Whatever type of toy is your furry friend’s favourite, get them a new one to add to their collection. It might be a simple squeaker, a new frisbees, or a cute stuffy for your pup or a catnip toy, a new scratch pad, or a cat tree for your kitty.
For extra enjoyment, wrap it first and let them unwrap it!
🎁 Tip: Another great holiday gift if you’re looking for something under the tree? Get a DNA test done to find out more about your adored beast!
Day #2: A Little Enrichment
On day 2, (or trade this and save it for a day when the weather doesn’t cooperate), do a little brain work to entertain yourself and your pet!
Take a towel (a tea towel will work for kitties), and lay it flat on the floor or table. Sprinkle small treats all over the towel at random, then roll it up tight. You can even tie it into a loose knot if your pet is particularly clever.
Place it on the floor and let your animal work on getting to the treats! This fun game is actually really great stimulation and brain-work, and it’s so entertaining to watch!
**Note: some cats will love this game, while others may not (some don’t enjoy brushing their whiskers against things), so give it a try and see how it goes!
Day #3: Spa Day
On day 3, have a spa day!
Here are some fun ideas:
- do a coconut shampoo mask – mix coconut oil with rosemary water and add a little castile soap
- good brushing
- do a manicure and pawdicure (trim those nails – but please, no polish 😉
- give your pup a nice massage
And top it off with a nice, new, clean collar or even just a holiday bandana.
Day #4: Give the Gut Some Love
Over 80% of the immune system is in the gut. A normal digestive tract contains both “good” and “bad” (pathogenic) bacteria. And when the gut is healthy, it helps the whole body not only stay healthy, but thrive!
Probiotics, or “friendly” bacteria, act like the gut’s defence system against “bad” or dangerous disease-causing bacteria. They are the gatekeepers that stop intruders and keep the mucosal lining healthy. It’s also paramount in converting and metabolizing our food into vitamins and bioavailable nutrition.
Today, consider the gut, and start rotating in some valuable probiotic defenders! We have lots to choose from – and this post will help you pick the best one(s) for your pet.
Day #5: Go Somewhere New and Exciting
On the 5th day of the holiday season, bundle up (if you’re somewhere cold, of course!), and head somewhere you’ve never been, or haven’t been in a while. Spend time out in nature. Let your pup sniff to their heart’s content. Let them run (if it’s safe to do so).
If your dog is a homebody, or if this isn’t something you think your cat would enjoy (and we totally understand that), instead do something new and exciting at home! Think about something fun that you can do together that’s new. Maybe that means doing a fun game or dog or cat puzzle. Maybe it means teaching a new trick. If your pet will enjoy the change of pace or routine, go nuts!
Day #6: Do a Photo Session
It’s time for holiday photos! On day 6, do a holiday photo session. Dress the same holiday colours, get a nice holiday bandana or sweater for your animal, do it outside in the snow or inside in front of the fireplace.
Remember: it doesn’t need to be fancy. Just do it with your smartphone!
- set up your phone with a delay to give yourself lots of time to get situated
- use treats or toys to capture your pet’s attention
- don’t discount the candid moments – those ones are often the best
Day #7: Chew on This!
On day 7, give your dog (or cat) a bone! Literally.
Both dogs and cats can benefit from a little raw bone action in the diet. Chewing is a natural activity for dogs and cats, and so a raw bone can help provide mental stimulation – which is just as important as physical exercise!
Plus, chewing on raw bones is really good for your animal’s teeth. Bones also work as a natural tooth brush to help remove plaque from the mouth. A recent study shows that raw meaty bones are highly effective for cleaning tartar off the teeth! For your kitties RAW chicken necks are amazing!
Now, if you’re new to feeding raw bones (remember, no cooked bones please!!), there are a few things to think about. We’ve outlined everything you need to know at this post.
And speaking of bones…
Day #8: Make Some Bone Broth
For both dogs and cats, bone broth is a stellar treat! Plus, a few simple ingredients = major nutrition!
It’s very easy to make in the crockpot – set it and forget it. You’ll need:
- Bones – marrow bones (they add the most jelly) and joints (like chicken feet) are some great options. That said, any bones will do – raw or cooked (you’re not feeding the bones)
- Apple cider vinegar – the magic ingredient! 3-4 tablespoons for a large pot/crockpot
- Any add-ons you’d like (except onions – many people add onions to their bone broth, but if you’re making it for your animals, leave the onions out)
Quick tip: we recommend this on day 8 so it’s not too close to any gatherings. Bone broth can be quite pungent while it cooks, so choose a day when you won’t be having guests in the next day or two.
Day #9: Paw-ty Time
On the 9th day of the holiday season, think about getting together with a friend for a playdate. If your dog has a best friend, work out a time to get together and let them play!
If your pup isn’t a fan of social gatherings, but prefers people, go for a walk with a friend or invite them over for a tea and cuddle!
And we know, this probably isn’t going to be a cat-friendly activity, so for the kitties, grab some catnip and get down on the floor and play!
Day #11: Get Baking
As pet parents, one of our greatest responsibilities is providing our animals with the best nutrition we can. And that extends to treats! While we love easy, healthy treats like fruits and veggies, we also get industrious sometimes and make our own!
On the 11th day of the holiday season, get out that baking sheet and mixing bowl and whip up a batch of deliciousness. This healthy dog biscuit recipe is a huge hit in our house. Your pup will love them, they’re a great alternative to those less-than-healthy store bought biscuits – and they’re really easy to make. You can even double the batch and share with your pup’s friends!
Day #12: Take Time Off
This is possible the most important gift we can give to our animals: time.
Not for errands or cleaning. Not for nail trimming or treat making. Not for bathing or brain work. Just time – plain and simple. Devote this time and attention solely to them. Play, walk, engage, talk, pet… whatever they want to do. Spend time simply being with your animal, giving them the greatest gift they could ever ask for: you.
Have a Wonderful Holiday
No matter how or when you celebrate, we wish you and your whole family the happiest holiday season, filled with warmth and love and lots of snuggles. As we say farewell to another year, we are grateful for all our animals bring to our lives: the wisdom, the joy, and most importantly, the unconditional love.