Santa Paws is Coming to TownChristmas is almost upon us, time to get excited about trees, decorations, presents and food.

Let’s not forget though to make Christmas a fun time for our pets as well. According to an RSPCA survey it seems that many of us are already planning on doing this.

91% of people were planning on buying presents for their pets.

26% of pets could expect to have their own advent calendars.

55% would wake up on Christmas morning to their very own Christmas stocking.

15% of owners will make a Christmas card for their pet

26% will have their own special Christmas dinner cooked for them.

18% of people admitted to spending more on their pets at Christmas than on their Mother-in –law!

7% will spend more on their pet than their partner and 3% will spend more than on their child!

1 in 10 pets will also be watching the queen’s speech.

With an estimated 300 million pounds expected to be spent in the U.K on festive presents for pets, what would make a good gift? There are plenty of innovative and fun toys available for pets these days, many of which provide mental stimulation as well as exercise. Climbing frames for cats with hiding spaces and scratching posts included are great, especially for cats that are mainly indoors.

These can help provide activities to reduce stress and increase exercise. Treat balls are good for both mental and physical stimulation, you can even use them for pets that tend to eat too fast, place the dried food in the ball and it takes much longer for the meal to be devoured! There are also puzzle toys for both dogs and cats, in which they have to figure out a series of actions to release a food reward.

You may want to buy a ball or soft toy for your pet, just remember to chose one that is of an appropriate size and material. Balls which are too small present a choking hazard, and if your dog is a chewer then softer toys may not last too long with the risk of squeakers or stuffing being swallowed as the toy is chewed up. You don’t have to spend a fortune on toys either you can easily make fun toys from empty kitchen rolls or toilet roll tubes.

For cats you can cut holes in them big enough to put a paw through and hide treats inside then stuff the ends with paper. For dogs just stuff the rolls with treats then fill the ends with paper to pull out. You can even decorate the cardboard rolls with a Christmas theme!

As well as the presents a huge part of getting into the Christmas spirit involves eating festive foods. Unfortunately many of the treats we like to enjoy ourselves are toxic to our pets, especially those containing chocolate or dried fruits such as raisins or sultanas. But there is no need for them to miss out. There are lots of festive food treats to buy for your pets, but if you’re feeling up to the challenge there are also plenty of recipes for homemade biscuits and other tasty nibbles. If your pet has a dietary intolerance though, be sure to check the ingredients first. Our pets are part of our families and so it is only fair they should be included in our celebrations. Merry Christmas.

Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via editor@andoverandvillages.co.uk or alternatively called at