As temperatures begin to plummet, Nadia Crighton, from Pet Insurance Australia, takes a look at some of the aliments that affect our pets during winter.
Winter is certainly here. As the afternoons turn to darkness and the morning alarm sends shivers down your spine it’s time to start considering some winter warmth for your pets. Most dogs and cats will go in and out of seasonal changes without much fuss, however some animals do need a little extra love and attention as the cooler weather approaches.
It’s no surprise that our older pets struggle with the cooler weather. Older pets feel the cold easily, with many showing some symptoms of arthritis and stiffness as the cooler weather approaches. Making sure your older dog and cat is kept warm is paramount. Place beds in the sunlight, add additional blankets and consider a dog coat for the cooler nights. For older cats you can also purchase heat pads that you pop into their beds (as anyone who has a cat knows… most cats hate coats). If your older pet is showing signs of arthritis (stiffness, reluctance to exercise, moaning/groaning when standing or lying down, licking joints), pop along to the vet for a quick check. The treatment options available today are simply amazing and you’ll be surprised how quickly your older pet will return to its happy self.
If you have a heavy-coat dog or cat you’ll find that they will cope very well in the winter conditions, so long as they don’t spend too much time curled up by the fire. If they spend too much time in front of the fire or heater, their body may not actually trigger that it’s winter! As their new heavy coat grows, make sure you keep up with your grooming to prevent matting. Matting can be a huge problem for heavy coated cat and dog breeds. Matted costs can be very painful, as they become so entangled that they pull on the skin. The knots are also terrible to get out, but do not be tempted to cut the hair-matts out of the fur, particularly close to the skin as it can end in tears for all involved! Instead use a specialized comb or head off to the groomer for some professional help. The trick is to prevent the problem and groom your animal regularly.
Beds, Food, Coats
Think about picking your animal’s bed up off the floor. Trampoline beds are wonderful for this. This is particularly important if your pet sleeps on tiles, concrete and even wooden floors, as it can get very cold. Ensuring your pet’s bed is nice and warm will also help, but please never use wheat bags or hot water bottles as they can overheat and cause burns. If you think your dog needs some additional warmth consider a good fitting dog-coat. You can now get dog-coats for all occasions. Water-proof ones for walking and nice snuggly ones for sleeping. They can also make a real fashion statement if you want to stand out from the pack. Make sure the coat is fitted correctly and is not too tight or too loose. Many dogs do not drink enough water during winter months. A good way to ensure your dog is getting some additional water, while adding some warmth, is to pop some warm stock over their dinner. A teaspoon of vegemite into some warm water also works a treat, or an ordinary stock cube. Make sure the water is warm not hot. This is also good for older pets as it can help soften the food a little, which is soothing on old teeth and gums.