According to the Real Pets Survey conducted by Real Insurance, Australiansspent close to $145 million on Christmas presents for their pets in 2018,which was part of a staggering $8.1 billion spent across the year on food,toys and other expenses.

As thousands of Australians prepare to spoil their furry friends, TAFE NSWAnimal Studies Teacher, and Association of Pet Dog Trainers Australia (APDT)Dog Trainer of the Year in 2017, Debi Coleman, has highlighted 10 of the best(and worst) Christmas ideas for dogs this year.

“Christmas is a time for giving but the safety of our dogs should be paramountwhen considering any presents, especially when it comes to food or tastytreats,” Ms Coleman said.

Ms Coleman, who is affectionately known as ‘The Dog Lady’ , said while itwas only natural to want to spoil your dogs with Christmas leftovers, many ofour festive season favourites are quite harmful for our dogs, and we shouldavoid giving them:

  • Christmas ham: It’s salty and will cause your dog to dehydrate, get a stomach ache and may even cause Pancreatitis which can be fatal
  • Fruit cake, mince pies and puddings: They contain fruit and nuts that can be toxic to dogs
  • Cooked Bones: They can splinter and cause a blockage in the intestines.

When spoiling your dogs, the best and safest Christmas food presents are:

  • Reindeer ears and bully sticks: long lasting and delicious chews
  • Liver Treats: low in fat and high in protein.

In terms of playful dog presents, Ms Coleman recommends purchasing thefollowing:

  • A snuffle mat: This is an inexpensive enrichment item that can be made from a rubber mat and strips of fleecy material. A great quick craft idea for the kids or can be bought online and is fabulous for dogs of all ages and sizes and uses their natural seeking instincts
  • Puppington Pods: A pod shaped dog ball – you place a treat in the middle and teach your dog to bring the ball back and be rewarded when he does
  • Clam shells : Can be filled with water and used for swimming in the warmer weather. Can also be filled with sand for digging and burying treats.

Presents to avoid include:

  • Rawhide treats: Rawhide is a waste product and is often flavoured in hazardous chemicals
  • Pig snouts : Get soggy as the dog chews and often the right size to block airway.

Ms Coleman said according to Australian Government Jobs Outlook websitestatistics, there is a predicted 9,000 new veterinary nurse positions tobecome available across the country until 2023.

“The best way to start an exciting career working with animals is by gettingthe practical skills and work experience that you need by studying atAustralia’s largest training provider – TAFE NSW,” Ms Coleman said.

“TAFE NSW has a huge range of Animal Studies courses available for semester 1,2020 through face-to-face and blended, remote delivery. For information visitwww.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.”

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