Who doesn’t enjoy the holiday season?  Food, festivities, and gifts – what’s not to love?  But while most of us find the holidays an exciting time of the year, for our senior pets it’s often the opposite.  As our pets slow down in their golden years, they start disliking changes to their routine and environment, such as noisy strangers in their home.  Especially if they don’t see or hear so well anymore. And they want to spend more time with their human parents, which can be challenging during the holidays.  To help you make it a happy time of the year for your senior pet, our vet Dr. Wiles offers the following tips:

Avoid Feeding Holiday Foods & Snacks

Aging pets often have poor digestion and they get fussier about what they eat as their teeth wear out.  Yes, there are some human holiday foods and snacks that it’s safe to feed pets. But it’s best to stick with feeding your senior pet their regular diet so they continue to get the right nutrition and to avoid them potentially choking or suffering from stomach upsets.

If you want to feed them a treat and their teeth are still healthy, give them a chew.  Buffalo Range has a variety of all natural, grain-free buffalo rawhide chews for dogs that are gentle on the stomach and fully digestible.  If your elderly furry friend has hip and joint problems, consider giving them daily Hip & Joint Soft Chews for dogs from Vet’s Best, which taste as good as a treat.

Keep Them Away from Decorations & Gift Wrap

Everything from holiday tinsel to candles, tree ornaments, plants, and ribbons can be dangerous for our pets this time of year.  And not just younger, playful pets, we’re talking older, less rambunctious ones too. Play it safe and keep all holiday decorations and gift wrap out of the reach of kitties and pooches of all ages.

Create a Quiet, Calm Pet Retreat

As our pets age, they spend more time sleeping in warm, cozy spots.  At the same time, they get anxious and stressed more easily, especially when a lot of “new” people invade their space.  So it’s a good idea to create a quiet, calm pet hideaway for them to retreat to during the holiday season. Your pet’s hideaway should include their beds, food and water, and toys.  If you have a kitty, you’ll need to put a cat litter pan in the room as well. If you have a pooch who has “accidents,” place a dog pad on the floor.

We like this KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box, which has a low opening so it’s easier for senior cats to climb into.  And check out Simple Solution’s All Day Premium Dog Pads, which last all day.  Don’t forget to put the litter box or dog pad well away from your pet’s food and water.

Stock Up on Pet Supplies & Medication

Before your schedule gets overloaded, you’ll want to stock up on pet supplies to last you until January.  And it’s easy to do! You can find all your favorite pet care products at www.heropetbrands.com.  Also, call your vet for prescription refills or medical supplies you may need.  

Keep Track of Any Health and Behavioral Changes

The holidays are such a busy time of the year that it’s easy to miss signs that your elderly pet is not feeling so good.  Dr. Wiles suggests keeping a list of warning signs to look out for and checking it once a week. Book a visit to your vet if your senior pet is eating less/losing weight; drinking more than normal and/or peeing inappropriately; is having trouble pooping; has stiff joints, or a limp; seems lethargic and gets tired easily; has bad breath or is drooling, or their eyes appear cloudy.  Also, if you find any lumps or bumps on his or her body.

And finally, take regular time out from the craziness of the holidays to give your senior pet lots of love and attention.  That’s the best gift you can give your furry old friend this holiday season.