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Be a Secret Santa for a Needy Pet this Christmas

By Tamara McRill

In my house, we’re big believers that the joy of the holidays isn’t just reserved for the special people in our lives. We like to extend the love and gift giving to their pets and even have friends that do the same for ours. But this year I’ve been thinking about those pets that don’t have the benefit of a loving circle of friends or our friends who may not be able to afford gifts for the pets they adore. Instead of feeling sad about this, I’ve decided to start a new holiday tradition. This Christmas we are going to become Secret Santas to some less fortunate pets in our community, and you can too!

Here are a few considerations and tips you can use to help out needy pets this holiday season:

Being a Secret Santa to Pets You Know

We’re no strangers to the sleuthing it takes to give the perfect gifts to needy pets that we know. It’s usually not hard to get fellow pet lovers to open up about their fur babies. Some details you may want to ask (or fish for depending on the person’s pride):

- What types of toys does your pet like to play with?
- Which toys aren’t a match for his jaws or personality?
- Is your pet supervised with toys?
- What kind of treats does your pet like best?
- Is there anything your pet needs or could use replacing?
- Does your pet have any phobias?

These questions are important, because you don’t want your being a Secret Santa to turn into a trip to the vet for the pet. The power of a dog’s jaws and how often they tear things up are crucial to the type of toys and even food dishes you consider giving as presents. Some dogs – like my chocolate lab Wuppy – have powerful chompers that destroy most dog toys. Even most of the super durable kinds. Most toys pose a choking hazard for my dog if they aren’t taken away as soon as he goes out of play mode and into destruction mode. Other dogs – and most cats – are kinder to their toys and don’t require that high level of supervision.

Finding out a pet’s phobias may seem like a strange thing to ask regarding a Christmas present, but there are actually lots of pets out there who have a strong aversion to common things. I’ve had a wonderful, but picky, white cat who wouldn’t sit on anything not – you guessed it – white. So a different color pet bed would have been a waste on her. I’ve also known dogs who were afraid of balls!

How to Give Graciously

It’s hard for some people to admit that their beloved animals may need or want something they can’t provide. Especially to those they know. That’s where the ‘secret’ part of being a Secret Santa comes in handy. You can just simply leave the gifts on their front porch, on their desk at work or have them delivered anonymously. Include a note that lets them know you saw some things their pet might love to have, so they know who the gift is intended for.

If you won’t have the opportunity to give anonymously or simply can’t resist seeing if the pet likes his new presents, there are still ways to give without making the owner feel bad. Simply emphasize how much you love animals, like their pet and thought these were some presents they might enjoy. Totally skip over any part about knowing the owner is on hard times and focus on the pleasure of giving to their pet.

Being a Secret Santa to Unknown Pets

Even if you don’t know of any needy pets who could use some extra Christmas spirit, you can still give. You can call local animal shelters and ask what types of items they are looking to be donated this holiday season. Some food banks also offer pet food. You can call and see if your local one would give out any packages to families with pets. Even if you just put together one gift package, that is one pet that won’t be going without. Churches may also be able to give you the names of some needy families with pets. If they can’t give you a name, they may be willing to hand out the gift for you.

Here are a several general ideas of what you can give:

Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Dogs

- CANIDAE dog food (canned or dry)
- CANIDAE TidNips™ dog treats
- Toys
- Dog bed
- Stuffed animals
- Rawhide bones
- A new collar and leash
- Food and water dishes
- Dental hygiene products
- Grooming supplies

Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Cats

- FELIDAE cat food (canned or dry)
- FELIDAE TidNips™ cat treats 
- Toys
- Kitty litter
- A new collar
- Cat bed
- Food and water dishes

Have you ever been a Secret Santa for a pet? What types of gifts would you give?

Dog photo by Kim Jones
Cat photo by Richard Gillin

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