Top tips for keeping pets safe during winter
Managing your pet’s health through winter can ensure that they get to enjoy the season along with you. Harsh winters can bring a number of challenges and stress for pet owners. With cold weather comes darker nights, which can prove to be hazardous for your cat or dog.
As curious pets will want to investigate new sights during winter that they may have not seen before, it’s crucial to understand how to maintain their health during this period. Snow and ice could be intriguing to your dog and as the weather gets colder your pet might need additional support for their joints.
Here are some positive things you can do to help keep your pets safe during winter:
Keep them warm
To be sure to protect your pet from the cold, keep them indoors as much as possible. Dog jackets and jumpers could be used for walking your dog to help keep them warm. Short haired and senior pets could use them whilst indoors.
Bring pets indoors
If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. Bring outdoor pets indoors during winter months. If left outside your dog could freeze or become disoriented. Also, don’t leave your pet alone in cars during winter, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold the cold in and can cause animals to freeze to death.
A cosy bed
Make sure your pet has a nice warm place to sleep. If they are usually kept outdoors, bring them inside for winter months to prevent health problems from the cold. Senior pets can be more sensitive to the cold, raise your dog or cat’s bed from cold surfaces to prevent stiffness in joints. Add more bedding to protect from the cold and add extra padding for joints.
Be aware of chemicals and salts
These are used to melt ice on paths and driveways and could be poisonous to your cat or dog. Your pet could pick them up on their paws when outside, which could irritate them. If they have been outside you can clean their paws with warm water and cotton wool to prevent them from licking it off.
This is used in cars to prevent car radiators from freezing up. Your pet will be attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze, however, it can be poisonous to cats and dogs. Be sure to clean up any spills immediately. Consider using one that is ethylene glycol free, which is the ingredient that makes it both sweet and toxic.
Keep up with exercise
Even though it feels colder outside, it’s still important to walk your dog and keep them active to prevent them from becoming overweight and maintain joint mobility. Take them for shorter walks more often to limit the amount of time in the cold. Your cat might also want to go outside less due to the cold weather, be sure to play with them inside to ensure they get the same amount of exercise to prevent unwanted weight gain in winter.
Bathe your pets less
Washing your dog too much during colder months can irritate their skin. Try to do it as little as often to prevent the removal of essential oils, which can increase the chance of them developing dry skin.
In cold weather, air in homes can become dry which can have an impact on your cat or dog’s skin. If their skin becomes dry it could irritate them. Prevent this by brushing your cat and dog regularly to increase circulation and improve their skin and coat.
Check your car
When it is cold, outdoor cats can be attracted to the warmth of a car engine. Before starting your car bang on the bonnet or beep your horn before driving.
Ponds and lakes
During winter walks keep your dog away from any ponds or lakes. They could be frozen over and thin ice may break under your dog’s weight. If they fall or jump in this could cause hypothermia. Even if the ice is thick, your dog could slip on the ice.
After each winter walk, dry your dog and check their coat and paws for stones or hardened mud. Use warm water and cotton wool to gently clean between their paw pads and toes to prevent salt and ice from causing irritation. If your cat spends time outdoors, be sure to also dry them off and check their paws when they come inside.
Your cat or dog might use up more calories to stay warm, so you could increase their food intake to ensure they are getting the right amount. However if they don’t get as much exercise from not going outside, be sure not to overfeed them. If you are unsure, consult your vet who will be able to offer advice.
Keep your pet hydrated
Your cat or dog can become dehydrated in winter, just as much as in summer. Make sure that they have constant access to clean, fresh water. If they have a bowl outdoors, be sure to keep checking it so that it does not freeze over.
In cold weather your senior cat or dog might need some extra care. Cold weather can aggravate joints, so provide extra padding and comfort to relieve joints in colder conditions.
To help maintain the health of your cat or dog, your vet will be able to offer advice on any of the above. Ask your vet about nutravet products such as nutraquin+, nutrabio and nutramega that can help at this time of year.