What to look out for with your pet in winter
While Australian winters tend to be quite mild, it’s worthwhile paying attention to the comfort of your pet, especially when it comes to shelter, diet and exercise.
“For starters, the cold weather, same as with humans, can make arthritis symptoms worse,” says Dr Roslyn Lui of Greencross Vets Werribee
. “And arthritis is a common disease in both adult and senior dogs and cats.”
“The first thing to look out for is the decrease in activity levels that could be due to an animal’s discomfort,” she says. Book a health check
with your local Greencross Vets if you’re concerned about your pet’s health.
Shelter from the cold
“You have to make sure your pet has adequate shelter and warmth
,” says Dr Roslyn. “It may be obvious but make sure that pets can get away from wet weather and wind.” Some very old pets with severe joint disease or senility may not have the capacity to remove themselves easily away from the elements.
It’s also worthwhile to give pets warmer, padded bedding and more blankets so they can escape the cold. Know your pet – this is especially important for short-haired dogs that live outside. Breeds such as whippets can feel the cold more than other dogs.
Another option is to purchase a jacket or clothing to keep your pet warm if they feel comfortable wearing them. Also consider bringing your pet inside at night if they’re older, or a short-haired breed.
Pets are generally able to stick to their regular diet in winter, except if their exercise levels change.
“In wintertime, many people won’t exercise their dogs as much as in the spring or summer with the beautiful weather” says Dr Roslyn. “If you know your dog will be getting less exercise – even if it means reducing the length of a walk or the frequency – you have to take that into account so they don’t put on a lot of weight over winter.”
The same goes for cats, which can become less inclined to exercise or venture outside in winter. Ensure you’re exercising your cat regularly with playtime throughout winter, and adjust their diet to align with activity levels.
Exercising in winter
“Most pets are happy to participate in regular exercise routines if they’re enjoying company with their owners,” says Dr Roslyn. “Again, it’s good to be aware that they could be slower than normal – with the onset of cold weather it could be slower for them to actually rise out of the bed if they have arthritis, it may take them longer to get up and get going.”
If your pet is slower than usual, or acts sluggish or like they’re in pain – all of which can be exacerbated by colder weather – ensure you talk to your local Greencross Vets
about what you should do. If you book a checkup
, your vet can also advise you about treatment for conditions such as arthritis, and about diet and exercise for your pet.