Celebrating Holidays with Elderly Pets

The holiday season will soon be upon us and if you have an older pet, the holidays can be especially challenging for them. Older pets are prone to illnesses and disabilities such as arthritis or blindness, which can make getting around holiday crowds more difficult. 

Certain foods and holiday plants are toxic to pets and guests bringing these items may be unaware of the risk to your pet. Be especially aware of guests attempting to feed your pets anything containing chocolate, baked treats that may contain xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions or other toxic foods. Even certain treats can pose a risk to your elderly pet if your pet has food sensitivities or illnesses that may disrupt his digestive tract. Caution well-intentioned guests of any food sensitivities your pet may have and carefully inspect anything guests may bring for your elderly pet. Other foods that should be off limits to elderly pets include: turkey and turkey skin – sometimes even in small amounts – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Table scraps – including gravy and meat fat –also should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes. During the holidays, when our own diets tend toward extra-rich foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can cause pancreatitis. Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.

In addition to food safety, don’t leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree or potpourri. Keep holiday plants (especially holly, mistletoe and lillies) out of reach of pets. 

If guests will be visiting, provide pets with a safe and comfortable place to retreat from guests. If guests are bringing other pets with them, be sure your pet and the guest pet get along and if not, bring your pet to another part of the house if guests will be bringing their pets. Older pets that become afraid of crowds or other pets, may become overwhelmed and try to escape. It is best to crate them or put them in another room during holiday gatherings if they seem stressed in any way. 

If guests insist on bringing something for your furry friend, below are some great ideas that are pet friendly and safe for elderly pets.