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Tips On Spending The Holidays With Older Pets

December 15, 2023

Happy Holidays! We always love seeing pictures of Fluffy and Fido posing in front of beautifully decorated trees. Our furry patients somehow manage to seem even cuter at this time of year than usual. Kittens and puppies tend to get the most attention, and they definitely dominate many pet-themed holiday cards and photos. Of course, senior animals are just as adorable and lovable as their younger counterparts, and look extra charming snoozing peacefully in front of a tree or crackling fireplace. Read on for some tips from a Rockwall, TX vet on how to keep older pets comfortable and happy during the holidays.

How Can I Reduce Holiday Stress For Older Pets?

While some of our canine and feline friends definitely have a taste for adventure, senior dogs and cats are usually homebodies, who feel safer and more comfortable with a steady routine. Anything that upsets their normal environments and/or daily napping/meal/looking adorable schedules can cause senior pets to feel distressed. That means things like commotion, decorations, weather changes, guests, and travel can all upset Fido and Fluffy.

Provide your four-legged friend with a safe, comfortable spot to retreat from all of the commotion. For kitties, this might be a spot beneath the bed or behind the couch. Kitty condos, pet tents, boxes, and cat towers are also good options. As for Fido, if he’s crate trained, add some new toys and/or bedding to the crate to make it more comfortable.

Depending on how your house is set up, you might also want to make your four-legged pal a spot in a quiet back room. 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 loud area, you may also want to do this on New Year’s Eve. 

If your four-legged pal seems extremely anxious, ask your Rockwall, TX vet about calming products and techniques. 

Snacks For Older Pets

It’s perfectly fine to treat Fido and Fluffy. Just don’t go overboard. It’s important to know what foods are harmful for dogs and cats. That list includes garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, chocolate, meat on the bone, avocado, seeded fruits, raw dough, dairy products, and anything containing xylitol. For senior pets, you’ll also need to be extra careful when offering high-fat treats. Occasional indulgences, like a little cheese or bacon, are acceptable here and there, but greasy and fatty foods can upset that furry belly. Plain, cooked meat, fish, or poultry, with the skin, bones, and fat removed, is always a good bet. Ask your Rockwall, TX veterinarian for more information.

What Are The Best Stocking Stuffers For Senior Pets?

Toys and treats are good options here as well. Many senior pets also benefit from specific supplements. These are definitely not one-size-fits-all, though: you’ll need to consider your furry bestie’s age, size, and health choosing supplements. For example, a dog with arthritis may benefit from fish oil or glucosamine, while a pooch with skin issues might do better with a Vitamin E supplement. Consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on any supplements. 

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

Decorating With Senior Pets

When sprucing up your home for the holidays, it’s important to consider your four-legged family members. If Fido and Fluffy have impaired vision, changing the familiar layout of furniture or decorations can confuse them. Keep holiday decorations off the ground where pets may trip over them. Although senior dogs and cats are less likely to chew on things than puppies or kittens, it’s still wise to keep hazardous items out of their reach just in case. That includes anything small or sharp, ropy or stringy items, and unsafe plants. Ask your Rockwall, TX veterinarian  for more information.

You’ll also want to take steps to keep your pet from feeling stressed. You may love that snowman that sings Jingle Bells whenever anyone walks by, but Fido and Fluffy may be terrified of it! 

Should I Travel With A Senior Pet?

Travel is difficult for many pets, but it can be particularly hard on senior ones.  For one thing, Fido and Fluffy often get pretty stiff and sore. Even being picked up or put into a carrier can be uncomfortable for them. Many older pets also tend to get rattled whenever their daily routines are disrupted.

That said, if you’re only going over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s, Fido may be just fine going along with you, while Fluffy may be fine by herself for a day or so. For anything longer than that, we would recommend getting a caregiver. An in-home pet sitter may be best, since this is the least disruptive option. Your dog or cat will be able to continue on with their normal napping and relaxing routine. That said, boarding is definitely the better option in some cases. If you can’t find someone to stay at your place—which is difficult at this time of year—a kennel may be a safer option. Older pets simply shouldn’t be left alone for long. Plus, pets with medical issues may also require care that is beyond the level of the average pet sitter.

Just err on the side of caution. If you are traveling with your pet, make sure their accommodations are safe and comfortable. Ask your vet for specific advice.

What Should I Get My Senior Dog For Presents?

Don’t forget to put something under the tree for Fido! If your canine pal could write a wish list to Santa Claws, we’re pretty sure that toys and treats would definitely be on there! Fido will never outgrow his love of bacon! These are still great gifts for senior dogs. Opt for soft toys that are gentle on Fido’s mouth, or perhaps toys that light up or make noise. As far as treats, look for healthy options. Ask your veterinarian for specific advice.

A good orthopedic bed is another ‘pawesome’ present. Senior pooches need something that will cushion their stiff bones and joints, offer insulation from cold floors, and help them sleep comfortably while they’re dreaming of sugar plums … or bacon … or squirrels. Pet ramps or stairs are also great options.

What Should I Get For My Senior Kitty?

Our feline overlords usually age slowly and gracefully. Generally, Fluffy’s wishlist will resemble that of any other furball. She will likely still be delighted to receive toy mice, catnip, or perhaps a fresh laser pointer. 

Beds are also ideal presents for cats. Another wise choice would be pet ramps or stairs, to help your feline pal climb to her favorite lookout perches. As kitties get older, they may struggle with grooming, as they have a hard time reaching their whole bodies. Additional help and/or tools may be greatly appreciated. Consider getting Fluffy grooming furniture with a brush loop for her to rub against.  Your kitty may also appreciate kitty furniture that’s easy to get on and off, or perhaps a litterbox with low sides, which will be easier for her to navigate.

How Can I Ensure That My Older Pet Enjoys The Holidays?

This one is simple: pay attention to them! Your fuzzy buddy really just wants to hang out with you. We know, the holidays get pretty nutty, but it’s important to make time for Fido and Fluffy. Spend a quiet relaxing night watching a beloved seasonal movie with your adorable friend. The time we have with our animal companions often passes much too quickly. Enjoy this special stage of your four-legged pal’s life. Of course, the gifts and treats mentioned above will also score you some purrs and tail wags. 

Happy Holidays! Please feel free to contact us, your local Rockwall, TX animal clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.