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Holidays With Older Pets

December 15, 2023

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 pics of Fluffy and Fido in front of the tree. Of course, kittens and puppies tend to get most of the attention, at least when it comes to posing for holiday photos. Older animals are also super cute and lovable. Read on as a local Lake Echo, NS vet offers some tips on holidays with senior pets.

Reconsider Traveling With Senior Pets

Traveling can be hard on any pet. It can be particularly trying for older dogs and cats. One reason is simply that even being picked up or transported can be uncomfortable for senior dogs and cats, simply because they can be quite stiff and sore. Fluffy and Fido also tend to get rattled by disruptions to their daily routines.

If possible, 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 some cases, boarding may be a better option. Pets with medical issues, for instance, may need care on a level that is beyond that of the average petsitter.

If you are traveling, make sure your pet’s accommodations will be safe and comfortable for them. Ask your vet for more information. 

What Are Good Gifts For Senior Dogs?

If Fido 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 pooches. When choosing toys for a senior dog, you may want to look for things that are soft on Fido’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 your canine pal 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.) Fido may also appreciate grooming products, such as paw wax or dental flakes.

Beds also make our list of great options for older dogs. Fido needs a good orthopedic bed to cushion his bones and joints from cold floors, and help him sleep comfortably. Pet ramps or stairs are also a good bet.

What Are Some Good Gifts For Senior Cats?

Our feline pals usually age slowly and gracefully. For the most part, Fluffy’s wish list will look the same as that of any other kitty. She’ll still enjoy a few catnip mice, or perhaps a new laser pointer. Beds, of course, are the universally accepted present for kitties. Heated or thermal beds are a great choice! Pet ramps or stairs are another good option for kitties. You may also want to look into getting your pet a piece of furniture with a ‘brush’ loop she can rub against. Senior cats often have trouble grooming themselves, so your pet may appreciate the extra tools.

Kitties may also appreciate litterboxes with low walls, or some cat furniture that’s easy to get on and off.

What Are Some Holiday Hazards For Older Pets?

In addition to 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. Make sure your furry friend has a comfortable bed, and that it’s in a spot that is easy to reach. Pets often get stiff and sore when it’s damp out. Your pet may benefit from supplements, or perhaps from massage sessions. Ask your Lake Echo, NS vet for more information.

Reducing Holiday Stress On Older Pets

While some of our canine and feline friends definitely have a taste for adventure, older dogs and cats tend to be very much homebodies. They also feel safer and more comfortable on a steady routine. Older pets can also get quite distressed by anything that upsets their usual day-to-day world. That includes things like commotion, decorations, weather changes, guests, and travel. Fido and Fluffy may even get stressed out by that singing reindeer in the hall!

One thing you can do to help your furry buddy cope is to make sure that they have a safe, comfy spot to retreat to, somewhere that is away from all of the commotion. For cats, 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 Fido, if he is crate trained, take a few steps to make his crate seem extra comfortable, such as adding a few new toys.

Depending on your house setup, you may also want to make him 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 also a good idea for New Year’s Eve, as many pets are terrified by the sound and commotion of fireworks. You can put a baby gate at the door, so your furry pal doesn’t feel isolated.

What Are Good Treats For Older Pets?

Those delicious foods are often at the center of holiday celebrations. There’s no reason you can’t offer your four-legged friend something special, but you’ll need to be cautious. 

First and foremost, it’s important to know what foods aren’t safe for dogs and cats. 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. These are unsafe for pets of any age. With senior pets, you also need to be extra cautious about offering rich, fatty treats. The occasional piece of cheese or bacon is fine, but greasy foods can upset Fido and Fluffy’s furry tummies.

Are Supplements Good Stocking Stuffers For Senior Pets?

Many older pets can benefit from specific supplements. That said, supplements are not one-size-fits-all. The type of supplement that is best for your pet will depend on their age, size, and health. For instance, a dog with arthritis may benefit from fish oil or glucosamine, while a pooch with skin issues may do better with a Vitamin E supplement. Be sure to talk to your Lake Echo, NS veterinarian before starting your pet on any supplements.

Decorating With Senior Pets

Those holiday decorations can really transform your home into a beautiful, cozy scene. Just keep your furry pal in mind when decorating. Pets that can’t see well—or at all—often have trouble when things are moved or rearranged. Try to keep decorations off the floor, so Fido and Fluffy 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 animals are, it’s still best to keep potentially dangerous items, such as small or sharp objects, in spots they can’t reach.

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 Fido and Fluffy may be quite scared of it!

How Do I Help Older Pets Enjoy The Holidays?

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 Complete Care, your Lake Echo, NS animal clinic, wish you a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to contact us anytime!