Just like us, the winter months can challenge your pets health and wellbeing. While some will bound through the chillier months in full health, we need to be mindful that changes in temperatures and shorter days can have a real impact on the health and happiness of your family pet.
Just as we will wrap up before going out, take precautions against cold temperatures with your pets. Obviously some pets will grow thicker coats to cope with the cold, older pets and some breeds are not quite as lucky so buy them a winter coat to survive the colder temperatures. If you suspect that your pet has caught a chill, quickly wrap them in a warm towel or blanket and rub them down vigorously.
Pets that usually live outdoors, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, should be brought indoors if the temperature falls to single figures or below. Extra bedding and a towel or blanket placed over the top of the hutch will help keep your small furry snug and warm.
Darker mornings and evenings, coupled with colder temperatures, makes it tempting to stay inside but it is still important that your pet gets plenty of fresh air and exercise. Here are a few of our ideas for winter workouts:
◦ Dogs – play games such as tug of war and Frisbee because the more aerobic the activity, the warmer your dog will be; go for walks in a local wood as the trees will shelter you from wind and rain; enrol your dog in indoor agility classes
◦ Cats – use pieces of string, ping pong balls and wind up toys to encourage object play; invest in a scratching post or indoor climbing frame; use large cardboard boxes to play hide-and-seek
◦ Rabbits (and small rodents) – ensure they have a pen available that is big enough for them to run and jump; build a sandpit that they can dig in; play with a ball and let them push it with their noses
Staying warm in the winter takes more energy and so pets spending a lot of time outside, will be burning more calories in order to generate body heat. It may be necessary to increase their calorie intake to account for the cold but please speak to a member of our practice team for more advice on the correct amount to feed your pet, as over-feeding can be just as dangerous as under feeding. And while you monitor their food, it’s also important to check that your pet has access to fresh clean water and that water bottles and dishes haven’t frozen overnight for pets living outside.