If you’re planning to get a little something for your pet this holiday season, here are some suggestions on popular toys, trends, great local retail shops, and what to avoid. First, What rates high on the pet-favorite list these days? At the top of the list for just about any species of pet these days, are interactive toys that don’t simply offer your pet something to chew on or bat around, but that make your pet solve a puzzle, or offer rewards for playing. Interactive games and toys, can be as simple as a Kong®, which offers hours of fun and combats behavior problems when filled with food or treats (and FROZEN). More complex toys are also increasingly popular as well. These include Nina Ottoson® games (http://www.nina-ottosson.com/) like the Dog Tornado or the Cat Treat Maze, the Busy Buddy line (www..busybuddytoys.com), and the SmartCat toys for cats (my favorite is the peek-a-prize box: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3flvMn9oI1s). These toys offer your pet enrichment, hours of fun, and in many cases can help curb behavior problems.
Orange saw the opening of a new ‘big-box, corporate pet-supply chain’ in October. Unfortunately, the management and staff at that store have been less-than hospitable to myself, my students, friends and colleagues. Their selection of items is also lacking for such a big-name super store. And so, having visited all local pet supply retailers, I HIGHLY recommend visiting one of the following shops:
PET SUPPLIES PLUS: 471 Boston Post Road, Orange CT, 203-799-7387 - General Manager Kevin, Assistant Manager Steve, Shift Supervisors Ajay and Carrie, and their staff members are always friendly and helpful. If they don’t have something on the shelf that you need, they can sometimes get it for you, so don’t be afraid to ask. If there is a demand for a product, I have known Pet Supplies Plus to begin to carry certain pet foods and toys based on customer requests. Visit any one of the 9 LOCAL, FAMILY-OWNED CT locations: Bristol, Brookfield, Groton, Manchester, Orange, Shelton, West Hartford, Westport, and Wethersfield.
H-3 Pet Supply: 475 Hawley Lane, Stratford CT 06614, 203-690-1400 – This second location of H-3 Pet Supply, which stands for “Happy, Healthy, Humane,” opened last year. The original Shelton location at 350 Bridgeport Ave is also still open. Owners Lisa Gay and Cindy Socha are both long-time residents of Shelton. These ladies are always friendly and helpful, as are their employees, and they can find what you need! H-3 offers specialty pet foods and will special order to suit your needs. Their dedication to animals is reflected in their work with animal rescue and welfare groups, and is apparent in their stores.
- It seems to me that almost every time I visit Pet Super Bowl, owner Lee Baghdady is there! I think this man works too much, but talk to him for five minutes and you’ll know that he truly loves what he does. Lee is extremely knowledgeable about the many varieties of pet foods out there and can help you find just the right food to help your pet live healthy and happy for many years. The Stratford location expanded several years ago, and Lee has a second location at 144 Oxford Road, Oxford.
If you must visit a corporate-owned pet super store, PetCo is conveniently located at 1401 Boston Post Road in Milford and 955 Ferry Blvd in Stratford. These stores are host to many adoption and fundraising events, which benefit local animal shelters and rescue groups.
HAZARDS IN GIFT WRAP!
I would like to caution you against some of the potentially dangerous toys & treats that are out there. First and foremost is rawhide. Rawhide in and of itself can be a nice treat for your dog in moderation. Unfortunately, the majority of the rawhide that is sold in the United States is not made here. In other countries, preservatives used in rawhide for dogs may contain arsenic. Arsenic remains in an organism forever; it does not leave the bloodstream unless special medication is given. Throughout your dog’s life, as he eats more and more foreign rawhide, the arsenic levels can continue to build up until a toxic level is reached. There are no specific symptoms to watch for. Arsenic poisoning can look like many other illnesses. Many times, when a dog dies from arsenic poisoning, the cause of death appears to be something else. If you buy rawhide, be absolutely certain that it is 100% made and distributed in the United States.
Other hazardous dog toys include other animal products like pig ears and hooves. Bones should not be cooked, this makes them brittle and cooking removes the enzymes in the bones, which make animals able to digest them. Toys with squeakers can present a hazard if your pet removes the squeaker. Tennis balls, or other balls that can fit entirely into a dog’s mouth can become lodged in the animal’s throat if caught in the air.
Toys made for cats and small critters are not without danger either. Fake mice often contain small plastic eyes that can cause a medical emergency if they’re torn off and swallowed. Finally, the “Laser Mouse” cat toy or other flashlight-type games to play with your pet have a potential to create neurological problems for animals. These problems develop out of frustration when a pet is never able to catch the light they chase.
If you have any questions about other holiday hazards, or pets in general, please e-mail me at TopDog@refinedcanine.com.
Happy (and SAFE) HOWLidays!
Michelle Douglas, CPDT-KA, CDBC