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Tips On Spending Holidays With Senior Pets

December 15, 2023

Season’s Greetings! We always love seeing pictures of Fluffy and Fido in front of the tree. Many of our furry patients manage to look even cuter at this time of year. It’s no secret that kittens and puppies tend to get a lot of attention during the holidays, but older animals are equally adorable and adorable. In this article from Westside Animal Hospital, a Pooler, GA veterinarian offers some advice on spending the holidays with your aging dog or cat.

What Are Some Holiday Hazards For Senior Pets?

Older animals are still at risk from the typical hazards we advise all pet owners to be cautious of, such as food, decorations, and flames. You’ll want to pay attention to the weather as well. Senior pets get chilly fast when it’s cold!

Stress is another issue. While some of our canine and feline friends certainly have a taste for adventure, aging dogs and cats tend to be homebodies, and usually feel safer and more comfortable on a steady routine. Anything that upsets their normal day-to-day schedule can cause them significant distress. That includes things like commotion, decorations, weather changes, guests, and travel. Even the singing reindeer in the hall may be a source of stress for Fido and Fluffy!

Make sure your furry friend has a safe, comfy place to hide away from all the noise. For cats, you can offer a variety of hiding spaces, such as spots under the bed or under the couch, cat condos, pet tents, boxes, and cat towers.You may also want to offer a quiet spot, such as a back room of your house. Provide toys, bedding, and other necessities, and turn a TV or radio on for background noise. (This is also a good idea for New Year’s Eve, as many pets are terrified of the commotion and fireworks.) Put a baby gate at the door to help keep your pet from feeling isolated and lonely. If Fido is crate trained, take a few steps to make his crate seem extra comfortable, such as adding a few new toys or a new bed. Ask your vet for more information. 

Should I Travel With A Senior Pet?

Travel can be difficult for any pet. However, it can be especially hard on older dogs and cats. Even being picked up or transported can be uncomfortable for Fido and Fluffy, simply because they can feel stiff and sore. Dogs and cats in their golden years also tend to get rattled by disruptions to their daily routines.

It is probably best to leave older pets at home if possible. If given the option, Fido and Fluffy would probably choose a petsitter, as this will be the least disruptive option for them. Your furry pal will be able to continue their usual routines of napping, lounging about, and looking cute. However, boarding may be a better option in some cases. Pets with medical problems, for instance, may require care beyond what can be provided by the average petsitter. No matter what you decide, make sure your pet’s accommodations are safe and comfortable while you’re traveling. Consult your Pooler, GA veterinarian for specific recommendations.

What Are Some Good Gifts for Senior Cats?

Some possible gifts for your feline buddy include catnip mice or a fresh laser pointer. Playing is still fun and beneficial for older cats! Of course, beds are widely recognized as the go-to gift for cats. Pet ramps or stairs could be good pawsibilities as well. Or, you could consider getting your furry friend a piece of furniture equipped with a ‘brush’ loop for her to rub against. This may be especially beneficial for senior cats who struggle with grooming themselves, as it can provide them with additional tools to keep up with their beauty regimes. Kitties may also appreciate litter boxes with low walls, as well as cat furniture that is easy to get on and off. Keep in mind that your feline buddy will never outgrow her box obsession. Give her some of the empty ones after people have opened their gifts!

What Are Good Gifts for Senior Dogs?

When you choose toys for a senior dog, you may want to look for toys that are soft on Fido’s mouth. Choosing items that light up or make sounds is also a great choice. In terms of treats, choose healthy options. 

(A Santa outfit wouldn’t be inappropriate. It’s not only cute, but you’ll be able to use it year after year.) Fido may also appreciate grooming products, such as paw wax or doggy dental flakes.

A good orthopedic bed is a ‘pawesome’ choice, as it will cushion Fido’s bones and joints from cold floors and help him sleep more comfortably. Pet ramps or stairs are also good bets.

What Are Some Good Holiday Treats For Older Pets?

Holiday celebrations often center around delicious foods, and there’s no reason you can’t treat your four-legged companion a bit. However, it’s important to be cautious. Certain foods are unsafe for dogs and cats. That list includes chocolate, avocado, grapes, meat on the bone, raw dough or yeast, fatty foods, dairy products, and things that contain xylitol. 

With senior pets, it’s especially important to avoid indulging them in rich and fatty treats. While a little cheese or bacon is fine once in a while, excessively greasy and oily foods can cause digestive issues for Fido and Fluffy. Ask your Pooler, GA veterinarian for more information. 

What Are Good Stocking Stuffers For Senior Pets?

Several types of supplements can benefit older pets. For instance, a dog with arthritis may benefit from fish oil or glucosamine, and a dog with skin issues may benefit from vitamin E. Of course, supplements are not one-size-fits-all. The type of supplement that is best for your pet depends on their age, size, and health. Before starting any supplement, speak to your veterinarian. 

What’s The Best Way To Decorate With Senior Pets?

Decorating your home for the holidays can create a warm and inviting atmosphere. However, it’s important to consider your furry friend’s needs as well. Pets with visual impairments struggle with changes in their environment, so it’s best to avoid placing decorations on the floor where they could trip over them. Even though older pets are less likely to chew on objects, it’s wise to keep potentially hazardous items out of their reach. 

You’ll also want to be cautious with large, automated, or loud decorations. You may love the snowman that sings Jingle Bells every time you walk by, but your furry friend may be terrified of it!

How Do I Help Fido And Fluffy Enjoy The Holidays?

Just make sure that your pet feels loved and safe! There’s a lot to be said for getting some quiet, quality time with Fido and Fluffy. Watch a favorite seasonal movie—whether it’s Die Hard or any of the Lifetime/Hallmark movies—with your furry pal. Time spent with dogs and cats is never wasted, and is particularly precious as they age.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Westside Animal Hospital, your Savannah, GA animal clinic. Please feel free to contact us for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re always here to help!

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