Winter is here! Dig out those winter jumpers, dust off the skis and chop the firewood – but don’t forget to spare a thought for your pets that also need special attention in the chilly months. Here are some tips to keep your pet happy and healthy through the winter.
Top of the list is a warm bed. Cats, especially older moggies, just love warm spots near the heater or a cosy box lined with warm blankets.. As a special treat, include a snugly heatpad and hear that puss purr! Cats always seem to find the spots where the warm sun hits, but beware – their curious nature can lead them to some dangerous places, such as the tumble dryer, or under a car. Always check for your feline friend before you back the car out of the garage, or throw a load of washing in the dryer.
Dogs that live outdoors need a warm and dry kennel away from wind and rain. A deep bedding of straw, or a heatpad, is an ideal way to keep your pooch happy, warm and healthy. Older or unwell dogs should sleep inside on a soft bed of blankets or supportive dog bed, which will help prevent painful conditions such as arthritis.
Smaller pets such as birds, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits are especially sensitive to the cold and are dependent on their owners to keep them comfortable. Place birdcages in a warm, dry area of the house, maybe next to a sunny window (but never a heater), and cover the cage at night. Birds kept in aviaries outside must have a sheltered area that provides protection from the rain, wind and frost. Hutches for rabbits and guinea pigs should be placed in a sheltered spot with a waterproof cover. Provide lots of fresh hay in their bedding to snuggle in.
Damp and cold conditions aggravate sore joints and increase stiffness in arthritic pets. Along with a warm, soft and supportive bed, a good diet and supplements to improve symptoms of arthritis are invaluable. Your vet has a range of treatments to relieve the pain of arthritis and increase mobility.
Shorter days and bad weather can tempt dog owners to cut back on the amount of exercise they give their pets, but winter is the ideal time for your pooch to really enjoy the freedom of a deserted beach. And one of the best forms of exercise for a dog is swimming, as it builds muscle tone without putting stress on joints. Don’t forget to thoroughly dry your dog’s coat and bring it indoors to get warm.
After walking your dog in the park, check between the pads of its feet to make sure no balls of mud have formed that can make walking painful.
If the weather is really bad, engage your pet in some indoor games to help burn off excess energy and stay mentally alert. Teach them some new tricks, or visit your local pet shop to view the variety of toys that will keep your cat or dog amused for hours.
A clean, tangle-free coat provides better insulation from the cold, so it is important to keep your pet well groomed during the winter, especially those longhaired breeds.
As well as looking adorable, stylish dog coats and jumpers will keep your pet warm and protected from the wind and rain on those winter walks.! Most importantly, make sure any clothes fit properly and your dog is not distressed.
Pets that spend most of their time outside need more food during the winter to keep their energy levels up and provide extra warmth. Fine-coated breeds may also require extra food to maintain their weight.
As a special treat for your guinea pig, a bowl of warm milk and bread, or bran and oats mixed into warm milk, will provide a hot, nourishing meal.
Don’t forget your pets’ drinking water, which is just as important in winter.