A black dog in the outdoorsMost of us could live without the cold weather, snow drifts, and icy sidewalks, but these conditions can also threaten the safety and wellbeing of your senior pet.

Due to some of the health challenges commonly faced by older pets, winter seems to hit them especially hard. Difficulties include joint stiffness, arthritis, and other mobility issues, as well as compromised immunity and sensitivity to cold.

Bundle Up!

Cold temperatures have a harsher impact on older pets, who often have decreased muscle mass. Those who have short hair and are underweight are even more at risk.

If your home is on the drafty side, you may want to invest in a comfortable, fitted indoor sweater. If taking a short walk, make sure to outfit your senior pet in a winter coat, scarf, and a set of booties for better traction and protection from the elements.

Encourage Cozy Slumber

No matter what temperature the thermostat is set to, the floor always feels cold – especially on those sockless mornings when walking across tile or wood. Imagine what your pet might feel when left to sleep on a hard surface with minimal padding.

Extra cushions or an orthopedic or heated bed will help keep your golden guy or gal warm and will provide more comfort for arthritic seniors.

You should also inspect the space where your pet’s bed resides. Avoid drafty areas near doors and windows, and consider putting down rugs or carpeting for increased warmth and better traction.

Keep Moving: Indoor Activity Ideas

There will be days when it’s too cold or there’s too much snow and ice.

Because senior pets need some form of daily exercise, you should modify favorite activities and tailor them to your pet’s abilities and indoor environment. Here are a few ideas:

  • If your dog can be trained to walk on a treadmill, this is a wonderful low-impact option
  • An easygoing game of fetch with a soft toy can be entertaining and increase movement and energy
  • Teaching senior pets to bow, roll over, and sit up on hind quarters can help keep them limber and mentally engaged

Winter Senior Pet Wellness Care

Senior pets generally require more attention than healthy adults because age plays such a strong role in their health and wellbeing.  

The pet experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center recommend twice yearly wellness exams. Because seniors tend to be more affected by the cold, we recommend one of these exams take place during the winter season. Senior pets are also more susceptible to weight gain and nutrition-related issues.

We hope you found some of our tips useful to keep your elderly fur friend comfortable during the frosty months ahead. Stay warm!