Spending The Holidays With Older Pets: Keeping Fido and Fluffy Jolly And Safe

Season’s Greetings! Many of our furry patients somehow manage to look even cuter than usual at this time of year. We always love seeing charming photos of Fluffy and Fido posing in front of the tree. Of course, while kittens and puppies tend to get most of the attention, older animals are also super cute and lovable. Read on as a local Hiram, GA veterinarian offers some tips on holidays with senior pets.

What Are Some Holiday Hazards For Older Pets?

Senior pets are still susceptible to choking and strangulation mishaps if they try to eat or play with small or sharp items. In addition to the typical hazards we advise all pet owners to be cautious of, such as food, decorations, and flames, pay extra attention to the weather. Make sure your furry friend has a comfortable bed. While we don’t get the worst of the winter cold, we do get cold snaps. Pets often get stiff and sore when it’s damp out. Your pet may benefit from supplements, or perhaps from massage or laser therapy.

What Are Good Holiday Gifts For Older Dogs?

If your canine pal could write his own wish list to Santa, well, we have a pretty good guess what would be on it. Toys and treats would probably make up the bulk of those items. These are still great gifts for older dogs. When choosing toys for a senior dog, you may want to look for things that are soft on your pup’s mouth. Items that light up or make noise are also a good bet. As for treats, choose healthy options. We would advise checking with your vet for specific recommendations.

If Fido has thin fur, he may appreciate a new doggy jacket or sweater. (A Santa outfit wouldn’t be inappropriate. After all, you’ll be able to use it year after year.) Grooming products, such as paw wax or dental flakes, are also good presents.

Beds also make our list of great gifts. Fido needs a good orthopedic bed to cushion his bones and joints from cold floors, so he can sleep comfortably. Pet ramps or stairs are also a good bet.

What Are Some Good Holiday Gifts For Aging Kitties?

Cats usually age slowly and (at least somewhat) gracefully. Fluffy will still enjoy a few catnip mice, or perhaps a new laser pointer. Beds, of course, are always a great kitty gift. You can also give your feline overlord pet ramps or stairs, or perhaps a piece of furniture with a ‘brush’ loop your pet can rub against. Kitties in their golden years may also appreciate litterboxes with low walls, or some cat furniture that’s easy to get on and off.

Reducing Holiday Stress On Older Pets

While some of our cute patients definitely have a taste for adventure, older dogs and cats tend to be very much homebodies. They also tend to feel safer and more comfortable when they are kept on a steady routine. In fact, older pets can get quite distressed by anything that upsets their usual everyday world. That includes things like commotion, decorations, weather changes, guests, and travel. Your furry pal may even get stressed out by that singing reindeer in the hall!

Offer Fido and Fluffy a safe, comfy spot to retreat to, somewhere that is away from all of the commotion. For kitties, you can offer a variety of hiding spots. These may include things like spots under the bed or spaces under the couch, as well as kitty condos, pet tents, boxes, and cat towers. As for your canine companion, if he is crate trained, take a few steps to make his crate seem extra comfortable, such as adding a few new toys.

This is also something to keep in mind with automatic or loud decorations. You may love that snowman that sings Jingle Bells whenever anyone walks by, but your furry pal may be quite scared of it!

Depending on how your house is set up, you may also want to make your pet a spot in a quiet back room. Provide bedding, toys, food, and water, and turn a TV or radio on for background noise. This is a good idea for New Year’s Eve, especially for those who live in loud areas: many pets are terrified by the sound and commotion of fireworks.Put a baby gate at the door, so your furry pal doesn’t feel isolated.

Reconsider Traveling With Senior Pets

Traveling can be hard on any pet, but it can be particularly trying for older dogs and cats. Just being picked up or transported can be uncomfortable for senior dogs and cats, simply because they can be quite stiff and sore. 

We would probably recommend leaving older pets at home. Given the option, Fido and Fluffy would probably opt for a petsitter, as this is the least disruptive option for them. However, in many cases, boarding will be a better option. Pets with medical issues, for instance, may need care on a level that is beyond that of the average petsitter. It’s best to err on the side of caution. Ask your Hiram, GA vet for more information.

What Are Good Snacks For Older Pets?

We love that delicious holiday food … and so do our furry pals.There’s no reason you can’t offer your four-legged friend something special. Just avoid offering anything unsafe. That list includes things like chocolate; meat on the bones; avocado; fruit with seeds or pips; garlic and onions; grapes and raisins; raw dough; dairy products; and items that contain xylitol. With senior pets, you also need to be extra cautious about offering rich, fatty treats: greasy, oily, fatty foods can upset Fido and Fluffy’s furry tummies.

Supplements: A Pawesome Stocking Stuffer

Supplements can be great gifts for pets.  The type of supplement that is best for your pet will depend on their age, size, and health. A pooch with arthritis may benefit from fish oil or glucosamine, while one with skin issues may do better with a Vitamin E supplement. That said, supplements are not one-size-fits-all. Consult your Hiram, GA veterinarian before starting your pet on any supplements.

Decorating Safety Tips For Those With Senior Pets

Those  beautiful holiday decorations can really transform your home into a beautiful, cozy scene. Just keep your furry best friend in mind when decorating. Pets that can’t see well—or at all—often have difficulty when things are moved or rearranged. Try to keep decorations off the floor, so your four-legged buddy won’t trip on them. And while dogs and cats in their golden years aren’t usually quite as prone to chewing on things as younger ones, it’s still best to leave potentially dangerous items, such as small or sharp objects, out of paws’ reach.

At the end of the day, your pet only wants to hang out with you. Carve out some quiet quality time with Fido and Fluffy. There’s a lot to be said for enjoying a beloved seasonal movie—whether it’s Die Hard or any of the Lifetime/Hallmark movies—with your furry friend.

All of us here at The Ark Animal Hospital, your Hiram, GA animal clinic, wish you a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to contact us anytime!

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