The festive period is quickly approaching, which means most of us are going to be busier than usual, and our pets are expected to adapt to this. They will experience changes in routine, having people around the house or being left home alone for longer than they are used to, loud environments, changes in the house with decorations, and fireworks over New Year celebrations. This can be very overwhelming for our elderly or unwell pets, so it’s important to think about how you can best manage this.
Keep to their routine
Elderly animals can begin to experience symptoms of dementia and so can easily be confused with changes in the house and their routine. You can help them by trying to stick to their normal routine as much as possible by feeding them at the same times, taking them for walks at the same times and in the same places, and by not moving their food, their beds or litter trays when decorating the house.
If you are having celebrations around your house this can create quite a noisy environment. It is important to make sure your pet has easy access to a quiet place they can retreat to if they get overwhelmed. Make sure they have food and water available in this quiet space, as well as somewhere to rest/somewhere to hide. It is also important to make sure not to place decorations or items that generate noise next to your pets resources, as this could frighten them and stop them from feeling comfortable using them.
Make sure you have medication
If your pet is taking any medication it is important to check you have enough to last over the Christmas and New Year periods because there will be closures of veterinary practices and pharmacies, and there could be delays with deliveries too.
Be aware of your vets OOH service
Most vets will be closed for the upcoming bank holidays. It is important to be aware of your vet’s out of hours service – whether this is run by your vet practice, or outsourced to a specific out of hours service such as Vets Now. Be aware of which number you need to call if your pet needs help over the festive period.
There are likely to be fireworks, especially on New Year’s Eve. Lots of animals are scared by the unpredictable lights and noise so it is important to make sure your pet feels as safe and comfortable as possible. Suggestions of things to do at home include:
- Keeping your pet indoors – if they get frightened outside they might run off and get lost or hurt themselves
- Close blinds/curtains to block out some of the lights
- Put the TV or radio on to help block out some of the unpredictable noise
- Provide them a safe space to hide – under beds, behind sofas, cardboard boxes, their cat carrier/crate with a blanket over the top
- Use pheromone sprays or plug ins to help them feel more relaxed – feliway/adaptil or pet remedy
- Have a consultation with your vet about options for a mild sedative if they are extremely anxious around fireworks
We all want to enjoy our family celebrations with our pets. However, we need to put their welfare and quality of life first. If your pet has been struggling for a while and is nearing the end of their life, you may already be considering euthanasia as the kindest option for them. It can be incredibly hard to come to the decision as to when the best time to have your pet put to sleep is. We may consider trying to keep them going so they can spend the holidays with us, but we need to think if this is fair for them.