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The Risks of Holiday Dog Gifts And Treats

By Danielle Guercio
December 7, 2018 • 3 min. read
holiday toys and treats

We love our pets so much that we sometimes go a little overboard when we see special toys and treats at the pet store just for them. The holidays bring about an extra wave of themed and colorful toys, chews, ropes, bones, squeakers, and pretty much anything you can imagine involving Santa, reindeer, dreidels, Menorah, and anything “file under: winter holiday” you can imagine.

Before you snatch up a sack of tiny present shaped soft toys with braided red and green rawhides, you should know there are some drawbacks to these holiday toys and treats. Dogs will chew up anything you can imagine, and it’s not always safe for them to do so. Even colorful tennis balls can have hazards that should be looked at before you fall for the checkout bonus buy.

Susceptible to Mishandling

You will have no idea which vendor prepared those stocking shaped cookies at the big box shop, and that’s just a starting reason to avoid such items. Since they’re seasonal, there’s little way to trace the quality and practices behind many of these items brought in by pet shops, dollar stores, holiday and party stores, and even Christmas-themed stores; worse still they’re there for only 4-6 weeks of the year.

Stick to the treats that you know and love for optimal safety, and if you want complete control, try making them yourself. You can periodically keep an eye on watchdog sites that aim to keep track of safe pet food and treats, but the quick turnaround of holiday-themed treats leaves a lot of time between when the information could surface and when the item was initially purchased. goes into more detail about how recalls work, and they don’t do much in the way of prevention: “Federal law requires that foods sold in the United States, including animal foods, be safe, wholesome and properly labeled. But the FDA doesn’t have premarket approval authority for foods.”

This means you don’t hear about a problematic treat until there is already a significant issue. The article continues, “The FDA has the authority to take action when animal food is unsafe, but in most cases the agency only investigates pet foods after receiving complaints about them. So the first line of defense is pet owners who report adverse reactions to the FDA.” Our takeaway? If you are a pet parent whose pup or kitty has suffered an adverse reaction, please report it immediately so others can benefit, and possibly save their pet’s life.

holiday toys and treatsChew Safely

When you love your dog, buying them little tokens of that affection is a totally normal impulse, but it’s one you should think a bit harder about. Everyday dog toys can contain lead, so just imagine what quick ‘holiday’ toys can contain. According to’s analysis of a 2009 study,  “Of the tennis balls tested, 48 percent contained detectable levels of lead. Researchers discovered that tennis balls made specifically for pets were more likely to contain lead than “sports” tennis balls. The lettering on one “pet” tennis ball, for example, contained 2,696 ppm of lead and 262 ppm of arsenic, a known human carcinogen. None of the “sports” tennis balls tested contained any lead.”

Additionally, rawhides are questionable, but when they’re holiday-themed there is an extra layer of potential concern. Often, these have been treated with dyes, questionable chemicals, and can come from murky sources, so it’s not a good time to pick up a new rawhide habit for holiday appearances if you already stay away from it.

Plastic and rubber toys come with similar worries, the dyes and materials used are just not always going to be up to par unless from a brand or shop you trust. Some of these toys have a consistency that doesn’t break down if ingested and can cause intestinal blockages and scary surgeries for unsuspecting pet parents.

Whether you avoid these toys and treats entirely or investigate them further, stay on your toes and keep an extra eye out for toy and treat safety this holiday season.

If you love your dog like family and would be unprepared to pay thousands of dollars for an unexpected accident or illness, consider pet health insurance. By enrolling as a puppy, you can bypass pre-existing conditions exclusions, so your furry family member and your wallet are protected. Start by getting a free quote.