The eyes are wide, the anticipation palpable. Yet the excitement comes not from a child with chubby fingers and a chocolate habit, but a pooch with a waggy tail and an uncanny ability to sniff out a biscuity treat.
You see, my lucky Labrador, Herbie, is testing canine advent calendars.
An increasing array of 24 or 25-day countdown calendars cater just for them and contain everything from toys to turkey meatballs, which means your pet can savour the run-up to Christmas as much as the rest of the family.
Antonia Hoyle picked out a selection of the best calendars for your pet to savour the run up to Christmas as much as the rest of the family – including Scrumbles Good Inside Out Dog Advent Calendar (pictured)
Pet ownership has surged since last March — one in four UK adults is now a dog owner, and last Christmas we spent £162 million on our pooches — an average of a £21.92 spend per pet.
So which of this year’s advent offerings will trigger the most puppy love?
DOGGIES ON A DIET
Scrumbles Good Inside Out Dog Advent Calendar (£6, scrumbles.co.uk)
This contains three varieties of low-calorie treats.
These include mini dental bones made with sweet potato and pumpkin seed which fight tartar build-up.
The turkey and chamomile treats are supposedly calming, although I’m not sure Herbie got the memo. They contain slippery elm, which helps to soothe stomach problems, too.
However, the portion sizes were smaller than some of the other calendars.2/5
MAGIC MEAT TREATS
Langham’s Meaty Advent Calendar (from October 28, £4.99, aldi.co.uk)
Antonia said Langham’s Meaty Advent Calendar (pictured) contains lamb and rosemary strips and duck and orange bites with around 10 per cent fat
The four unashamedly meaty flavours of the treats in this Aldi calendar are enough to make any committed carnivore salivate, let alone Herbie, who takes just one sniff of the lamb and rosemary strip in Day One and nearly bites my hand off.
Other boxes contain turkey, duck and orange bites, and chicken fingers with carrot. Each is individually wrapped in plastic, so it’s not the most eco-friendly option.
The lamb and rosemary strips and duck and orange bites contain around 10 per cent fat, compared to a typical 4-7 per cent for other advent calendar treats. 4/5
Zoon Doggy Advent Calendar (£3.99, TK Maxx)
Antonia said Zoon Doggy Advent Calendar (pictured) contains nine types of cereal-based baked biscuity snacks
This calendar contains nine types of cereal-based baked biscuity snacks. You get a full packet behind every door.
Herbie was blown away by the green Christmas tree treats behind Door 14 — so much so that he stood expectantly at my feet until I caved in and opened another door. 4/5
Lily’s Kitchen Advent Calendar For Dogs (£10, lilyskitchen.co.uk)
Antonia said Lily’s Kitchen Advent Calendar For Dogs (pictured) is perfect for health-conscious dog owners
Perfect for health-conscious dog owners, this calendar has three types of organic titbits: a bone-shaped training snack; a beef liver and carrot treat, with alfalfa to keep coats shiny; and a soothing honey and passionflower bedtime biscuit. All of the recipes use natural ingredients. Whether they’re enough to stop Herbie pigging out on sausage rolls, though, remains to be seen.3/5
Pets At Home Christmas Giant Kennel Toys And Treats Advent Calendar for Dogs (£20, petsathome.com)
Antonia said Pets At Home Christmas Giant Kennel Toys And Treats Advent Calendar for Dogs (pictured) will offer a little festive fun if your mutt feels neglected as a result of boring human parties
If your mutt feels neglected as a result of boring human parties, this pricier calendar, containing toys as well as treats, will offer a little festive fun.
The bumper kennel-shaped box has three foam balls — one of Herbie’s favourites — a plush toy candy cane and Christmas pudding, as well as mini gingerbread men and tree-shaped chews. Plus four useful rolls of dog poop bags. 5/5
Hatchwells Dog Advent Calendar (£8.25, amazon.co.uk)
Antonia said Hatchwells Dog Advent Calendar (pictured) contains carob — a sweet, dried pulp that isn’t harmful to dogs
The dark treats in this certainly look like chocolate. But carob — a sweet, dried pulp — isn’t harmful to dogs, and, with a whopping 33 per cent oils and fats, will make them feel they’re getting all of the treat with none of the danger. Herbie was certainly fooled. 5/5