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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, at least for holiday photos. Of course, older animals are just as adorable and lovable. Read on for some tips from a Frederick, MD vet on how to keep senior pets comfortable and happy during the holidays.

Should I Travel With A Senior Pet?

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

If possible, we would recommend leaving older pets with a caregiver. If given the choice, Fido and Fluffy would probably choose an in-home pet sitter, since this is the least disruptive option for them. Your furry friend will be able to continue on with their normal napping and relaxing routine. That said, boarding will be a better option in some cases. 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.

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

What Should I Get My Senior Dog?

Don’t forget to put something under the tree for Fido! If your pooch could write a wish list to Santa Claws, we have a pretty good idea what it would include. Toys and treats would definitely be on there! These are still great gifts for older dogs. Opt for soft toys that are gentle on Fido’s mouth. You could also consider toys that light up or make noise. As far as treats, look for healthy options. We recommend consulting your veterinarian for specific advice.

A good orthopedic bed is another ‘pawesome’ present. Older dogs 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. Pet ramps or stairs are also great options.

What Should I Get For My Senior Cat?

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

Beds are also ideal gifts for cats. Another wise choice would be pet ramps or stairs, to help your furry pal climb to her favorite perches. As kitties  get older, they may struggle with grooming, so providing them with additional tools may be greatly appreciated. Consider getting your little buddy grooming furniture with a brush loop for her to rub against.  Fluffy may also appreciate cat furniture that’s easy to get on and off, or perhaps a litterbox with low walls.

How Can I Reduce Holiday Stress For Older Pets?

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

Provide your furry buddy with a safe, comfortable spot to hide from all of the commotion. For cats, 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 is crate trained, add some new toys and/or bedding to the crate to make it feel more comfortable.

Depending on what your house setup is, 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 pet doesn’t feel isolated. You may also want to do this on New Year’s Eve, as many pets are afraid of fireworks. 

Older Pets And Treats

While it’s perfectly fine to treat your furry companion, be careful not to go overboard. It’s important to be aware of what foods are harmful for dogs and cats. Many popular seasonal favorites are unsafe for Fluffy and Fido. That list includes chocolate, meat on the bone, avocado, seeded fruits, garlic, onions, grapes, raisins, raw dough, dairy products, and anything containing xylitol. For older pets especially, be extra careful when offering high-fat treats. Occasional indulgences, like a little bit of cheese or bacon, are acceptable here and there, but too many greasy and fatty foods can upset that furry tummy. Plain, cooked meat, fish, or poultry, with the skin, bones, and fat removed, is a good bet. Ask your Frederick, MD veterinarian for more information.

What Are The Best Stocking Stuffers For Senior Pets?

Toys and treats are good options here as well. Many older pets also benefit from specific supplements. These are not one-size-fits-all, though: you’ll need to consider your furry pal’s age, size, and health when determining what type of supplement is best for him or her. For example, a dog with arthritis may benefit from fish oil or glucosamine, while a pup 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 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 furry family members. If Fido and Fluffy have impaired vision, changing the familiar layout of furniture or decorations can confuse them. Keep holiday decor off the ground where pets may trip over them. Although older dogs and cats are less likely to chew on things, it’s 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 Frederick, MD vet 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 your furry friend may be quite scared of it! If your furry pal seems extremely anxious, ask your Frederick, MD vet about calming products and techniques. 

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

Pay attention to them! Your furry best friend really just wants to hang out with you. We know, the holidays get a bit 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 Frederick, MD animal clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.