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Wed, Feb. 19

All About Pets: Prepping pets for the holidays

A variety of entertaining and challenging toys and chewy items should be available for your pet during your extended holiday absences. (Courtesy)

A variety of entertaining and challenging toys and chewy items should be available for your pet during your extended holiday absences. (Courtesy)

Our biggest holidays of the year are just ahead. And while this means good times for us with friends and family, this probably means long hours away from home and away from our pups and kitties. What can we do to keep them occupied during our absence?

What kind of activities can we arrange for them? Many people leave a radio or TV on, and if your pet is accustomed to that background noise, that is a great idea. If they are not used to it, it is best to keep it quiet.

Sure wish I had a basket full of fun activities for them. I do not but I would sure love to hear what ideas you might have. I will incorporate your ideas into future columns, but hurry.

The main thing we need to do is keep them out of trouble. Unfortunately, this might mean kenneling them. If your absence is going to be for more than a few hours, I would certainly recommend confining them to a room, such as the laundry room, where there is very little damage that they could do and they can move around. I have a friend whose pup has learned to open the refrigerator.

This same dog ate the remains of a rotisserie chicken, (that includes all the bones) that had been put in the garbage. Primarily, we want them to be safe.

Fortunately, for me and for many, I can give my guys the run of the house while I am away. My boy is always watching me leave from the front window, and he is always there when I return. I hate to think of him sitting on his stool for hours. But whatever!!

As we are heading out the door, we need to supply them with a chew bone of some sort. There are many varieties. We want to be very careful that what we give them will be safe for them to chew on while they are unsupervised.

Marrow bones are great but we do not necessarily want them in the house, and since it is a bit chilly these days we certainly do not want to lock them outdoors during our absence.

A great toy for entertaining the guys when the family is away is the Kong. These can be filled with most anything tasty, My overly spoiled pups demand their Kongs every night after dinner. I fill them with all sorts of treats, including carrots, which they consume in less time than it takes me to fill them.

But for long periods of being alone, the Kongs can be filled with a variety of things and then frozen. My grand dogs are fortunate to get these every morning when the family leaves for work and school.

The Kong website provides a variety of ideas for filling these Kongs with items that take a while to consume. Mixing smooth unsalted peanut butter with small treats and maybe even a little kibble is great to add a little challenge. Yogurt is a great addition to add to the mix and it can be frozen.

From the Kong website, there is a special recipe designated as a birthday cake, but it would work well as a leaving-the-house treat. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup applesauce, a little cinnamon and a tablespoon of cream cheese. A little honey, a crumbled rice cake and yogurt can be added. Freeze and save for your departure.

There are a variety of items that the dogs love to chew on that take a while to consume.

Bully sticks, special dental sticks and — well just wander around in a pet store and you will find tons to choose from. There are also toys that you can stuff with little toys. They can entertain and challenge.

Be sure your pets favorite toys are arranged around their favorite resting places. And, most importantly, as you are walking out the door, tell your guys to be good and that you will be back. After a while, they understand these words of comfort.

Enjoy the holidays!

Christy Powers is a free lance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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