The holidays are here again, and it's often stressful for anyone, including your dogs. Here's a quick guide to making the holidays as happy and stress-free as possible.
Dogs can experience various emotions, including happiness, sadness, fear, and anger, and the holidays tend to disrupt their equilibrium. It is essential to recognize that each dog is unique, so they might not be too bothered by all the comings and goings.
Below are some things you can (and cannot) do to help your disabled dog get through the holidays.
Control the Environment
Disabled dogs are more prone to feeling anxious when there is unusual activity in the home. However, with proper care and support, many disabled dogs will be able to handle the holiday season better.
Here are a few suggestions for keeping disabled dogs comfortable during the holidays:
- Make sure your disabled dog has a comfortable place to rest. This might be a special bed or a designated area in your home.
- Keep your disabled dog's routine as consistent as possible. This can help reduce stress and anxiety during the busy holiday season.
- Be mindful of your disabled dog's mobility needs. If your dog has difficulty walking, consider using a wheelchair or sling to help them move around.
- Keep your disabled dog's medication and other medical supplies well-stocked and easily accessible.
- Consider providing your disabled dog additional support during the holidays, such as hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to help with their care.
- Make sure your disabled dog has plenty of access to water and food,and monitor their eating and drinking habits closely.
- Keep an eye on your disabled dog's behavior and look for any signs of discomfort or distress. If you notice changes in your dog's behavior, contact your veterinarian for advice.
Make Them Feel Special
Of course, the holidays are also a time to spoil your disabled dogs a little. Here are some suggestions to make sure they feel the spirit of the season.
- Give them extra love and attention: Disabled dogs often require more care and attention, so make sure to give them extra love and affection this holiday season. This could include extra cuddles, grooming sessions, or even just spending extra time together.
- Consider special accommodations: Depending on your dog's specific needs and limitations, you may need to make some special accommodations to help them enjoy the holiday season. For example, if your dog cannot climb stairs, you may need to set up a special area for them on the main floor.
- Take them for a special outing: If your disabled dog can, consider taking them on an outing like a park trip or a pet-friendly store. This can help them feel part of the holiday fun and give them a chance to socialize with other people and animals.
- Involve the dog in holiday activities as much as possible. This might mean including the dog in holiday photo shoots or letting the dog participate in gift-giving.
Say It with Gifts
Speaking of gifts, consider getting your disabled dog something special gift that caters to their needs or interests. This could be a new toy, a cozy bed, or snazzy dog skates to help them get around. Here are some more gift ideas:
- A fully adjustable dog wheelchair: If your pet has difficulty walking, a wheelchair can help them move around more efficiently and comfortably. Many companies offer adjustable pet wheelchairs, so you can find one that fits your pet perfectly.
- A memory foam pet bed: Memory foam pet beds can help alleviate pressure points and support pets with mobility issues. They are also great for older pets who may have trouble getting comfortable.
- An automatic feeder or waterer: An automatic feeder or waterer can make it easier for pets with mobility issues to access food and water. This is particularly helpful if you are not always able to be home to feed or water your pet.
- A heated pet pad: Heated pet pads can provide warmth and comfort for pets with mobility issues or prone to getting cold. They can be placed in a pet's bed or crate to help them stay warm and cozy.
- A pet stroller - If your disabled pet loves going for walks but can no longer walk long distances, a pet stroller can be a great gift. It will allow them to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of the outdoors without walking.
- A pet ramp or stairs: If your pet has mobility issues, a ramp or stairs can help them access areas of your home that may be difficult for them to reach.
- A pet carrier: A pet carrier can make it easier to transport your disabled pet to the vet or other appointments.
- A harness or lifting sling - A harness or lifting sling can help you lift and support your pet if they have mobility issues or cannot walk without assistance. A helping harness is particularly useful if you have a large dog.
- Toys and puzzles - Keep your disabled pet's mind active with interactive toys and puzzles. These can help stimulate their cognitive abilities and provide mental and physical stimulation.There are also many toys designed specifically for disabled pets, such as balls with larger holes for easier gripping or chew toys with different textures to help soothe sore gums.
- A massage or physical therapy session - Massage and physical therapy can help improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote healing in disabled pets.
Feed the Beast
The holidays are not complete without the eats. Unfortunately, many human foods are unhealthy for dogs, and some are downright dangerous. Here are some guidelines when feeding your dog human foods during the holidays:
- Avoid giving your dog anything high in fat, as this can cause severe and potentially life-threatening pancreatitis.
- Avoid giving your dog any foods that contain toxic ingredients to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic.
- Avoid giving your dog any bones, as they can splinter and block or tear your dog's digestive system.
- Avoid giving your dog any foods seasoned with spices or herbs, as these can irritate your dog's digestive system.
- Avoid giving your dog foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, as these can be toxic to dogs.
However, all is not lost. Some human foods are safe for dogs to eat in moderation, such as the following:
- Cooked, unseasoned meats such as chicken, turkey, and beef
- Cooked, unseasoned vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes
- Cooked grains such as rice and pasta
- Small amounts of unsweetened applesauce or pumpkin
Okay, most of what you stuffed your face with is most likely well-seasoned, so they are not recommended for your dogs. It's probably safe to give them a little bit as a treat, but don't go overboard.
Chill for the Holidays
Many dogs with disabilities can lead active, fulfilling lives with the appropriate accommodations and support from their owners. The holidays can be a bit stressful for them, but you can minimize that by following this guide.