Taking care of your pet during winter months
During the winter you may notice your pet has a thicker coat and wants more food than usual. Depending on your pets lifestyle you may need to make an adjustment to their diet. If your pet lives predominantly inside they are unlikely to need any diet changes. Ensure the area where they sleep is warm or add an extra blanket to their bedding so they are warm in the wee hours of the morning. If your pet is an outdoor one and even more so if they are active, they will benefit from having extra calories in their diet during the winter months as their bodies will burn up more energy keeping warm. I don’t mean that you have to necessarily provide more fat in their diet as if you simply add fat then chances are this will lead to overweight health issues. Instead, you may like to add additional protein sources such as eggs, cottage cheese, kumera, pumpkin and fish if your pet likes it. Even cooked oatmeal is beneficial along with extra Omega oils. If your dog normally stays outside consider bringing them inside especially when the temperatures fall below 10 degrees celsius.
Thin coated animals should wear a coat when outside especially when the temperatures are low, remember the wind chill factor. If in zero and sub zero temperatures all pets should wear a coat. Nowadays dog and cat breeds that are naturally from warm climates are found in cold climates. These breeds do not have the natural coats to cope with cold temperatures so we need to provide them with an extra layer. When taking your dog for walks in icy and snow conditions don’t forget their paws should be covered to prevent cracked pads and ice burn.
Grooming is also important for all year round, no matter what type of coat your pet has. Regular grooming will help to prevent skin issues, sometimes called hot spots. It is important to regularly brush your pet to prevent fur matting and to help the skin breathe as well as produce the oils it needs to maintain healthy skin and fur.
Exercise is still important during the winter. The weather often puts us off from taking the dog for a walk but you can do things inside to ‘entertain’ your dog or cat. Playing games with them is both fun and provides exercise. Cats love boxes. Make an obstacle course from empty boxes, balls of string, something to chase or climb. Of course there is nothing wrong with snuggling by the fire or heater every now and then!