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Spending The Holidays With Senior Pets
December 15, 2023

Happy Holidays! Many of our fuzzy patients somehow manage to look even cuter than usual at this time of year. We always love seeing pics 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 Washington Heights, TX vet offers some tips on holidays with senior pets.

Decorating With Senior Pets

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 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, it’s still best to leave potentially dangerous items, such as small or sharp objects and toxic plants, out of paws’ reach.

What Are Some Good Gifts For Senior Dogs?

If Fido could write his own wish list to Santa, we have a pretty good guess what he’d ask for. Toys and treats would probably make up the bulk of those items. These are still great gifts for older pooches. When choosing toys, 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 are also 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 more possible options.

What Are Some Good Gifts For Senior Kitties?

Cats 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. Pet ramps or stairs are another good option for kitties. You may also want to look into getting your feline friend 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 help. An older kitty may also appreciate litterboxes with low walls, or cat furniture that’s easy to get on and off.

Traveling With Senior Pets

If you are traveling, you’ll need to make sure your pet’s accommodations will be safe and comfortable for them. However, consider whether your furry friend would be more comfortable staying home. Traveling can be hard on any pet, but it can be particularly stressful for older dogs and cats. One reason is simply that even being picked up or transported can be uncomfortable for them, simply because they can get very stiff and sore. 

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.

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 toxic food, unsafe decorations, and flames, you’ll want to pay close attention to the weather. Texas isn’t usually super cold, but that only makes those frigid spells harder on our four-legged buddies. Make sure your furry friend has a comfortable bed, and that it’s in a spot that’s easy for them to get to. 

Ways To Reducing Holiday Stress On Senior Pets

While some of our four-legged friends 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. Senior pets can get quite distressed by anything that upsets their usual day-to-day world. That includes commotion, decorations, weather changes, guests, and travel. Fido and Fluffy may even get stressed out by that singing snowman in the foyer!

One thing you can do to help your furry pal cope is to make sure that they have a safe, comfy spot to retreat to, somewhere that is a bit removed 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 pet condos and 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 or a new bed.

Depending on how your house is set up, 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 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?

There’s no reason you can’t offer your four-legged friend something special, but you’ll need to be careful. First and foremost, it’s important to know what foods aren’t safe for dogs and cats. That list includes things like grapes and raisins; raw dough; chocolate; meat on the bones; avocado; fruit with seeds or pips; garlic and onions; dairy products; and items that contain xylitol. These are unsafe for pets of any age.

Be extra cautious about offering rich, fatty treats. Greasy, oily 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. The type of supplement that is best for your furry friend will depend on their age, size, and health. For instance, a dog with arthritis may benefit from fish oil or glucosamine, while a pup with skin issues may do better with a Vitamin E supplement. Talk to your Washington Heights, TX  veterinarian before starting your pet on any supplements.

How Can I Help My Older Pet Enjoy The Holidays?

At the end of the day, your furry buddy 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 four-legged pal. Extra belly rubs and ear scritches aren’t a bad idea, either! All of us here at your Washington Heights, TX animal clinic, wish you a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to contact us anytime!