As we fill our pet’s Christmas stockings this month, it is a perfect time to start thinking out some ways we can help them out in the colder weather. Exposure to the elements, and equally, being cooped up indoors can bring about unwanted behaviour and health concerns that are easily preventable.
If you have a pet who lives outside, or spends a large amount of their time outside, make sure they have a well insulated structure to get out of the elements. It must be wind and water proof. Access to water is equally important. A heated water bowl is an excellent investment. Access to fresh water is as important in the winter as it is in the summer. If they are tied up outside, a straw pack or bedding will give their paws relief from the cold.
Geriatric pets could also use some extra TLC in the cold winter months. Just like us, their arthritis may be worse in the winter. Make sure to ask your Veterinarian if you think your pet needs to be on medication to help with their arthritis pain. A thick bed or heated blanket would be an excellent Christmas present for your geriatric pet.
Your indoor pet may start to gain weight as they don’t get as much exercise in the winter. Keeping up a good exercise regime and measuring their food intake will help. Bringing them into the clinic for monthly weigh-in’s is a good way to monitor this.
Indoor pets may also be afflicted with dry skin from the heat. Make sure not to over-bathe your pet, and when you do, use a gentle moisturizing cleanser like aloe and oatmeal will help with dry skin. Adding a humidifier may also help with this.
The shorter days give us less daylight hours to walk our dogs. Reflective gear (for you and your dog) is a must-have in the winter. Flashy lights on their collars and on your jacket is also a good idea. Salty roads may irritate paws. Petroleum jelly helps to protect from this and also prevents snow buildup on the paws. Jackets and sweaters are not necessary for most breeds, but tiny breeds, lean and shorthair dogs, and geriatric dogs will benefit from a well fitted coat. Make sure to take them off indoors to prevent chafing.