Senior Dogs and the Holidays – 3 Tips
It is important though, that as we progress through the holidays, we don’t forget our aged canine friends.
It’s that time of year again – the holidays. Family is coming. You’re visiting family. There’s good food, good fun, and generally a good time. Well, at least that’s the goal. It is important though, that as we progress through the holidays, we don’t forget our aged canine friends. It is easy to get distracted and forget about our four-legged friend asleep in the next room. Here are four tips for keeping your senior dog happy and healthy during the holidays.
1. Give Her a Safe Place
The holidays can be an overwhelming time for anyone, but especially your senior dog. Remember, she doesn’t know the in-laws are coming, and their arrival can be stressful. To go from a relatively quiet house to a house full of strange people is a significant stress for older dogs. Not only that, but as dogs age their perception senses start to dull. A blind and or deaf senior dog cannot relate to new people as well as an adult dog can. Visiting family can be an extreme emotional stress for a senior dog who cannot see or hear how many people are in her space.
As a result, you should give your senior dog her own space for the holidays. Make sure she has an area where she can retire if she gets overwhelmed. Maybe this is a crate, or dog bed, or even just a quiet room. If your senior dog’s dog bed normally sits in the living room, move it to your bedroom and show it to her. Then keep people out of the bedroom. Keep in mind that young children can wander and are often attracted to pets. If your senior dog is easily overwhelmed, make it clear to visiting children that she is not to be disturbed while in her dog bed.
2. Keep Your Dog Warm
With a house full of relatives it is easy for a senior dog to get underfoot. Do not put your senior dog outside! Cold weather is extremely detrimental to senior dogs. The cold causes her joints to stiffen, and it causes her body to expend precious energy on keeping warm, rather than keeping healthy. You’ve heard that being outside in the cold can make you sick, and it is true. If you senior dog is warm, her body can use her energy to do other things, like build healthy bones and joints. If your senior dog is cold, her body has to spend her energy keeping warm, rather than staying healthy. Put your senior dog in an unused room with her memory foam dog bed. In some cases, senior dogs may even need a little extra boost to keep warm even though they are inside. Consider getting your senior dog a bed warmer.
3. Don’t Feed Your Dog Table Scraps
Food is a big part of the holidays. Sharing your holiday spirit with your senior dog isn’t a bad thing, but sharing your holiday meal with her is. Senior dogs have a low tolerance of certain types of fat. As senior dogs age this tolerance becomes even smaller. Feeding your senior dog bits of turkey or cheese is very bad for her. This can cause pancreatitis, which is an extremely serious disease in dogs that is caused by too much fat. In fact, vet emergency room visits spike in the holidays and many of those holiday cases are pancreatitis. If you want to give your senior dog a holiday treat do it, but make sure it is a dog treat.
A great edible dog present is a dental chew. Dogs cannot brush their teeth, and gingivitis can become serious enough to poison the blood stream. While your senior dog should have regular teeth cleanings, getting your dog treats that are specifically designed to help break up plaque and bacteria in her mouth is a great way to kill to birds with one stone. Dental treats are available at pet stores and dogs love them. Keep in mind that giving a treat to a dog isn’t about what the treat is. Your dog will know that you gave her something, and that is what matters to her.