The Christmas holidays are a special time of year for family to gather together to celebrate. So how can you include your older pet in the festive celebrations?
Presents for older pets
Although many older pets may not play the same games that they used to, there are still ideas you can do for their Christmas stockings.
Have you considered a Kong toy? This can be filled with their favourite food and then put into the freezer before giving to your pet. Many older pets enjoy just lying and licking the food from out of the toy.
Perhaps they would enjoy having a gentle treasure hunt for treats in the house?
Older cats may enjoy a catnip filled toy that they can play with at leisure, rather than jumping after a laser pen or wand toy.
This may sound a little strange, but you could buy a bird table for outside. Many older pets that cannot go walking or outside as often like to be able to watch the birds or squirrels at the bird table during the day.
Another consideration is how your pet feels about the extra noise and visitors that the festive period can bring. Some older pets love to see familiar friendly faces, whereas others find the whole event a little overwhelming.
Allow space for your pet to be able to hide away. A little den in a quieter area of the house will allow them to settle.
Consider pheromone plug-ins or collars, or calming neutroceuticals in the lead up to the big day. Your vet would be more than happy to discuss various options with you.
For older dogs it is best to avoid them going up and down stairs frequently in case of accidents. A stair gate would be advisable.
Remember that cats will still need access to litter trays so try to ensure that these areas are not blocked or in an area where people congregate; your cat may not appreciate an audience!
With the colder weather that this time of year brings it is also worth being extra careful when taking your dog outside. Avoid icy areas where they could slip, and for older dogs with joint issues consider getting a ramp for up and down doorsteps.
If possible try to keep your normal routine for your pet. Sadly, they do not understand it is Christmas and a change in routine can be unsettling.
Older but not necessarily wiser…
The holiday season also brings a lot of hazards. Many of our favourite treats, such as chocolate, are poisonous. Feeding scraps of the Christmas dinner could cause gastrointestinal upset, and some older dogs can even eat objects that they really shouldn’t, such as toys.
Try to keep harmful objects, such as toys, foods and toxins out of reach and stop children from offering these objects. Instead, you could try saying to the children now it is time for Buster’s Christmas snack, and make a little time to give Buster his favourite treat.
If your pet is on long term medication it is worth checking how many tablets they have now and then placing your order for medication. This will give your practice or pharmacy plenty of time to get your medication in ready for the holiday season. Post can be affected in the lead up to Christmas, and there can be a high demand for certain medications.
It is also worthwhile during the festive period to make sure that you have your vet’s emergency opening hours and telephone numbers to hand.
If your pet has a chronic or terminal illness Dignipets can help you in caring for your pet. Dignipets are a mobile veterinary practice in the Midlands that focus purely on palliative, hospice and end of life care.
During the festive season we are open every day from 7am till 8pm.
For more information, please contact our team on 0333 3208731 or visit us at Dignipets.co.uk