This year, my dog will take preference over any other member of my family when it comes to Christmas gifts. My children are all over the age of 20, so when I start to calculate how much money I’ve spent on their Christmas in the last two decades, I have no reason to feel guilty that this year is my mutt’s turn to be showered with gifts.

I’ve done some checking around, so hopefully this article will be helpful to other dog lovers who may be at a loss for ideas.

First off, you must remember that a new collar or a bowl with your dog’s name printed on it is like giving a human a pair of socks or a tie. Your dog may seem appreciative, but deep down he will be thinking, “Oh no, not another stupid bowl with my name on it … same as last year and the year before, except a different color.”

iFetch

This year, spend a few extra dollars and buy him or her the iFetch interactive ball launcher. This item is on top of my list. My dog is obsessed with playing fetch; he never seems to tire of the game. The problem is that I do. After 20 minutes of throwing a slobbery coated tennis ball, I need to sit down and have a brew, yet Andy (my dog) just wants to keep on playing.

Well, the iFetch ball launcher is the answer. Much like what tennis players use to practice, except much smaller so it can fit in your living room, this piece of equipment is about the size of a large salad bowl. It runs off batteries or electricity and will launch a ball about 6-8 feet. The only trick is training your dog to drop the ball back into the opening on top of the machine for re-launching.

There is an iFetch Too model for larger dogs that you can set up outside for more launch distance. I cannot wait to see the enjoyment my dog will get from this toy.

Doggie day spa

Another thought: there are several dog spas on the island now. You can get your pooch a gift certificate to be pampered with a nail trim and a visit to the doggie boutique. You can even leave him or her at the spa for the day to hang out with other canines while you go run some errands.

Is your dog up in age, getting older with doggie years? Like humans, your pet can have aches and pains, so you may want to consider veterinary acupuncture. This procedure, which stimulates the release of your pet’s own pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory substances has become quite popular in Cayman. Veterinary acupuncture improves your pet’s tissue blood flow, oxygenation, and removal of metabolic wastes and toxins. Acupuncture is one gift that may not be as cherished by your dog as a T-bone steak, but it will, however, make them feel much better.

Dr. Joyce Follows at Island Veterinary Services can assist you with these services.

Love for less

On a budget? Then consider raw marrow bones, a super treat for most dogs. These can be found in most of the larger supermarkets on the island. If you do not see them in the display case, ask the butcher for a special order. Dogs and cats need the minerals provided by animal bones as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The primary nutrients provided by marrow bones are calcium and phosphorus. Both the total dietary amount and the ratio of these two minerals are important considerations when feeding your dog. A bone filled with fatty components of high quality nutrients will keep your dog busy and happy for hours as that tongue slurps out every last morsel.

By the way, marrow bones are good for your dog’s teeth. Most marrow bones are too hard for your dog to break down, so keep in mind the bones are also recyclable. Soak them in your fridge with leftover turkey or beef gravy for a few days and reuse them for some additional canine happiness.

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