It’s easy to assume that because our pets have a coat of fur, they can tolerate the cold better than humans. Just like us, our pets feel the effects of winter, so it is important we make sure they are kept happy and healthy throughout the cool season.
Ideally your pet shouldn’t be kept outside at night during winter. Like humans, cats and dogs can suffer from hypothermia. If your dog needs to stay outside, make sure they have access to a draught-free kennel offering protection from rain and wind. Fill the kennel with warm, dry blankets for extra warmth and comfort. For cats, consider installing a cat flap for easy access to your house during the day, and remember you must keep your cat indoors at night.
Give indoor pets access to comfortable bedding, raised off the floor, away from cold drafts. Try to keep a heater free area for your pet. While your pet may enjoy getting up close to heating, they run the risk or receiving burns and dehydration. Always have fresh bowls of water available for your cat and dog whether they are indoor or outdoor pets.
Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in pets, particularly arthritis. It’s very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but make sure your dog has a warm soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already, give your senior pet a natural joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winter. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during winter weather.
Grooming and paw care
Avoid having your pet’s coat clipped close to the skin during winter, as longer coats provide more warmth. Also minimise bathing your pets in the cold as this can remove essential oils from your pet’s skin and fur, increasing the chance of skin irritation. Brush your pet regularly to get rid of dead hair and stimulate blood circulation. This can improve skin condition. Cold weather can be hard on your dog’s paws, leading to chipping and cracking. If this occurs, consult your veterinarian for the best treatment options.
Exercise your pet
It is important for your pet to remain active in winter. For dogs make sure you stick to regular exercise routines during the colder months. When heading out for a walk, dress your dog in a sweater or coat. This helps retain body heat and prevents skin from getting dry or inflamed. For cats, consider a game of chase, with a piece of string or a bit of ribbon to help them stay fit and healthy.
Download a copy of AWLQ’s Keeping your pets happy and healthy in winter brochure here.
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