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Helping Older Pets Enjoy The Holidays

December 15, 2023

Holiday greetings! We always enjoy receiving photos of our furry friends posing in front of festive trees. Our patients somehow manage to seem even more adorable than usual at this time of year. While kittens and puppies often steal the spotlight, we mustn’t forget about our beloved senior animals. Fido and Fluffy are just as charming and lovable as their younger counterparts, and are super cute when they are peacefully snoozing in front of a tree or cozy fireplace. Purrs and tail wags definitely add to the holiday ambiance. Keep reading for tips from a Fayetteville, NY vet on helping older pets have a comfortable and joyful holiday season.

What Can I Do To Reduce Holiday Stress For My Older Pets?

While some of our canine and feline companions definitely have a taste for adventure, most senior pets are homebodies who both enjoy  and feel safer on a steady routine. Dogs and cats in their golden years can become quite distressed when their normal environment or daily napping/meal/looking adorable schedules are disrupted. Fido and Fluffy can also be upset by commotion, decorations, weather changes, guests, and travel.

Provide your pet with a safe, comfortable spot to escape all of the commotion. For kitties, this could be cat condos, pet tents, boxes, or cat towers, or spots beneath a bed or behind the couch. If Fido is crate trained, add some new toys and/or bedding to his crate so he feels more comfortable inside.

You might also want to set up a quiet back room for your four-legged friend. Offer bedding, toys, food, and water, and turn on a TV or radio for background noise. Put a baby gate at the door, so your furry senior doesn’t feel isolated. (If you live in a noisy area, it may be a good idea to do this on New Year’s Eve as well.)

Ask your Fayetteville, NY veterinarian about calming products and techniques if your pet seems anxious.

What Snacks Can I Give An Older Pet?

First and foremost, never let Fido and Fluffy have anything unsafe. That list includes  grapes, raisins, chocolate, garlic, onions, meat on the bone, avocado, seeded fruits, raw dough, dairy products, and anything containing Xylitol, which is sometimes labeled as birch sugar. Also, limit high fat treats. While an occasional bit of cheese or bacon is okay, you don’t want to overdo it. Greasy and fatty foods can upset your pet’s stomach! Opt for plain, cooked meat, fish or poultry without the skin, bones or fat instead. For further details on your pet’s nutritional needs,  speak to your veterinarian in Fayetteville, NY.

Senior Pet Stocking Stuffers

Toys and treats are good options here as well. Many senior pets also benefit from supplements. Consider your pet’s age, size, and health when choosing supplements, as these are not one-size-fits-all. A dog with skin issues might benefit from Vitamin E, while one with arthritis may benefit more from fish oil or glucosamine. Consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on any supplements.

Fluffy may enjoy catnip or some treats of her own, while Fido may enjoy grooming products, such as paw wax.

The Best Way to Decorate With Senior Pets

Keep your furry companions in mind when preparing your home for the holiday season. If your pets have vision problems, avoid altering the familiar setup of furniture or decor: Changes can cause confusion, and lead to slips and falls. Don’t put holiday decorations in spots where pets may trip over them. 

While older dogs and cats are less inclined to chew on objects compared to younger ones, it’s still best to keep potentially harmful items out of paw’s reach. That list includes small or sharp objects, unsafe plants, candles, and stringy or ropy items. Ask your Fayetteville, NY vet for further guidance.

Additionally, you should take steps to keep your pet from feeling stressed. You may love that reindeer that sings Jingle Bells whenever anyone walks by, but Fido and Fluffy might find it terrifying!

Is Travel Safe For Senior Pets?

Traveling can be challenging for many pets,  but it can be particularly hard on dogs and cats in their golden years. For one thing, Fido and Fluffy can be pretty stiff and sore. Even being picked up or put into a carrier can be uncomfortable for them. Older pets also sometimes get rattled whenever their daily routines are disrupted.

For short trips—like a visit over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s—it may be fine to bring Fido with you. Fluffy may also be fine at home by herself for a day or so. However, if you plan on being away for longer, we suggest finding a caregiver. In-home pet sitters are typically the least disruptive option, as your companion can maintain their normal routine. Boarding at a kennel may be a safer choice for some pets, especially if having someone stay at your home isn’t possible.Additionally, senior pets, particularly those with medical concerns, may require more specialized care than most pet sitters can provide.

If you do decide to travel with your pet, make sure their accommodations are safe and comfortable. Ask your  Fayetteville, NY veterinarian for specific advice.

What Can I Get My Senior Dog As A Present?

Fido will never outgrow his love of toys and treats. Choose soft toys that are gentle on Fido’s mouth, or perhaps some that light up or make noise. When choosing treats, look for healthy options. Consult your veterinarian for more information.

Another ‘pawesome’ present is a good orthopedic bed. Fido needs something to cushion his stiff bones and joints and help him sleep comfortably as he is dreaming of sugar plums, bacon, or squirrels. A good bed will also provide insulation from cold floors. Pet ramps and stairs are also excellent options.

What Are Good Gifts For A Senior Kitty?

Most of the time, our feline overlords age gracefully. Fluffy’s wishlist is pretty similar to that of any other kitty. She may still be delighted to receive a laser pointer, catnip, or even a new toy mouse.

Beds, pet ramps or stairs, grooming furniture, and easy-to-use kitty furniture can all make great gifts for cats. a litterbox with low sides is also a good bet. Your pet may also appreciate a kitty fountain, or perhaps a new laser pointer. Don’t forget to give your kitty some of the empty boxes after people have finished opening their gifts! 

What Can I Do To Make Sure My Older Pet Enjoys The Holidays?

This one is simple: give them love and attention! Your furry companion simply wants to spend time with you. We understand the holiday rush can be hectic, but carve out some time with Fido and Fluffy. Take a peaceful evening to watch a favorite seasonal movie with your lovable sidekick. The time we have with our pets can be fleeting, so cherish this special phase of your furry friend’s life. purrs and tail wags from older dogs and cats are truly precious! 

Happy Holidays! We wish you all a safe, happy, and wonderful holiday season. For all of your pet’s veterinary care needs, please feel free to contact our Fayetteville, NY animal clinic.