Peggy Frezon shares how pet parents across the U.S. include their furry, finned and feathered family members in their holiday traditions.
Your pets are part of your family, so it’s natural to want to make them a part of your holiday celebrations. Here are eight fun ways pet parents include their furry friends at this special time of year.
1. Put your pet in your Christmas card.
The most popular way people involve their pets in holiday traditions is with their holiday greetings, especially the family Christmas photo. Kristine Tonks of Alberta, Canada, says she always gets a picture of her dogs, mixed-breed Shiva and Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever Jynx, with Santa, “because it makes me laugh” and is a great way to document the family. Many people sign their pets’ names to their holiday cards, but Jackie Bouchard of La Jolla, California, took it one step further. She had her beagle, Bailey, “write” her Christmas newsletter with his own “editorial comments.”
2. Share seasonal food and goodies.
For a special treat, find holiday-themed food for your pet. One company offers canned Thanksgiving Day dinner for cats and dogs, made with turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, and cranberries. Other companies have gingerbread dog treats and peppermint candy cane chews.
When only homemade will do, Lori Schneider of Hurleyville, New York, whips up a special Hanukkah latke for her cat, Laycee. Jodi Chick of Vancouver, Canada, makes her own snacks for her puggle, Kolchack, and mixed breed, Felix. “All the leftover Thanksgiving turkey becomes jerky treats, and sides such as unsweetened turnip, sweet potato and other veggies become treats too,” Jodi says. Pure canned pumpkin is another healthy option pets can enjoy.
3. Go caroling together.
Pamela Webster of Ithaca, New York, and her husband take their golden retriever, Honey, caroling. “We usually hang back from the other singers to make sure she’s welcome,” Pamela says, “but once people spot her, they’re excited to meet the golden caroler.” (No word if Honey can carry a tune.)
4. Decorate their habitats.
Wreaths, lights and seasonal décor make any home look festive, even your pet’s. Abby Chestnut of Rome, Georgia, lines her pet rat’s cage with red, green and snowflake-print fleece. Others decorate their guinea pigs’ cages with items such as stockings, garlands and sleighs for them to snuggle in. For ferrets, you can buy holiday-themed cuddle cups, sleep sacks and hammocks. Seasonal toys for rabbit hutches, birdcages and aquariums are also available. Abby has even put Christmas window decorations on her fish aquarium.
5. Dress them up.
Have you ever seen a pug pilgrim or a feline Frosty? Some people dress their pets in holiday costumes, if only for a fun photo op. Santa hats and reindeer antlers are popular holiday pet attire. Dawn Miklich of Forty Fort, Pennsylvania, takes creative pictures of her guinea pigs, posing them in holiday settings with accessories like tiny halos and wings.
6. Give them gifts.
A new collar, a special toy, and edible treats are popular pet presents. Steve Essig and his wife, Judi Shub, of Ghent, New York, got a kick out of the pom-pom-adorned skirt his brother sent their Norfolk terrier, Ruby, for Hanukkah. Fellow New Yorker Deb Gorman of Albany and her family hold a Secret Santa gift exchange just for their pets. Last year her cat, Emmeline, was matched with her sister’s basset hound mix, Sullivan, and gave him a squeaky pizza toy.
7. Include them in your blessings.
Barbara Techel of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, treasures the Thanksgiving tradition of sharing what she’s thankful for and always includes her pets. This year she’ll be sure to mention the blessings that her yellow lab, Kylie, and her miniature dachshund, Gidget, have brought into her life.
8. Help your furry friend help others.
Sally Dick of Albany, New York, and her therapy dogs, collies King and Majesty, visit hospitals to spread holiday cheer. Dayna Hilton of Clarksville, Arkansas, brings her Dalmatian, Molly, when she volunteers for the Salvation Army. Molly attracts a lot of attention and even helps ring the bell!
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Peggy Frezon is the author of Faithfully Yours: The Amazing Bond Between Us and the Animals We Love and other books about pets. Connect with her on her blog, peggyfrezon.blogspot.com, on Twitter @peggyfrezon and at facebook.com/peggyfrezonbooks.
Want more pet advice from Peggy? Read her column in All Creatures!