rspca

Baby it's cold outside! Top tips for pet owners this winter.

The wind is picking up, the rain is setting in and temperatures are starting to drop as winter fast approaches. It’s nearly time for woolly socks, hot drinks and warm coats.
While planning for winter, responsible pet owners should also start thinking about the comfort levels of their furry companions. If you are starting to feel cold and uncomfortable, then your pet is likely feeling the same way. Luckily, there are a number of simple ways you can keep your pet safe and warm this winter.
Winter Coats
Although many cat and dog breeds have luxurious thick fur to keep them warm, when they are outside or on walks in the cold, they will still likely benefit from an additional winter coat. This is especially important if you have a thin, older or short haired breed.

A good pet-coat or jumper will give coverage from the neck to the base of the tail while also giving protection to their belly. Make sure your pet’s coat is the right fit and isn’t restricting movement.

Remember, don’t leave your pet’s coat on once they are in a heated indoor environment as they may over-heat under all those layers!

Better bedding
As the weather gets cooler, you might notice your pet is spending more time snuggled up in their bed. You can make a few simple adjustments to their bedding to ensure they are properly protected from the cold.

Make sure your pet’s bed is away from drafts and elevated off cold, hard surfaces. You should raise the bed off the ground and add an extra blanket for warmth and comfort. Try not to place the bed too high though, as cold temperatures are especially tough on older dogs or cats with stiff joints who may have difficulty in movement after long periods of rest.

You can place a heating pad or disc in their bed (avoid hot water bottles as there may be the temptation to chew!) to gently warm up the bedding and create a cosy, warm and safe sleeping environment. 
The great indoors
If your pet spends a lot of time outside, then appropriate shelter is essential. Pet supplies stores like World for Pets have a great range of kennels for dogs and enclosures for cats, that will give protection from rain, frost and wind. Choose a spot for your pet’s housing that is protected from the elements in a warm elevated position. Fill your pet’s shelter with dry blankets that are washed regularly.

If your dog is usually kept outside, you could bring them indoors to sleep at night, somewhere warm and dry, away from cold drafts and damp.

Keep on moving
The temptation in winter is to stay indoors, safely snuggled under a warm blanket. But your dog or cat still needs exercise and boredom busting stimulation. Keep playing indoors with soft toys or a ball to get the blood moving. 

Or, brave the cold, grab the lead, put on both your winter coats, and head out for a brisk walk together!  Your dog will still love the joy of their walk even if it’s a bit colder, and you will feel better for the exercise too. 

Heat seekers
Cats are notorious for finding warm spots around the house, like the afternoon sun through a window, or sitting close to heaters. Dogs too will seek out sources of heat during colder weather. Be wary of your pet sitting too close to heaters or fires as they can fall asleep and end up with dried out skin or worse, burns.

Pet heating pads and disks are a safe alternative that can be placed in their bedding or on a favourite chair. This will become your pet’s favourite warm spot this winter!
Senior care
Cold weather can be harder on our older cats and dogs as, just like with people, the drop in temperature can aggravate joints stiff with arthritis.  You should be mindful of keeping a healthy exercise regime during winter without over-doing it. Dog walks should take no more than 20 minutes a day over even ground. Exercise encourages good circulation and develops muscle tone. Extra weight on your pet will only worsen joint pain.

Make sure your pet has a warm, comfortable rest area away from drafts and elevated off cold, hard surfaces. If you notice your pet is showing signs of discomfort associated with arthritis, you should take them to their vet for a check-up. Signs of pain or discomfort include stiffness, chewing or licking certain joints, difficulty walking up or down stairs, eating slowly and noticeable behavioural changes.

  • We recommend pets go for 6 monthly check-ups to stay on top of any potential health issues. There are a number of good products which can make your pet feel much happier

Your vet may recommend a number approaches to help treat arthritis:

  • Supplements: There are natural supplements of Omega 3 fatty acids, like 4Cyte™, you can get from your vet to give your older dog at meal times. This will encourage healthy joints and help to reduce stiffness.
  • Medication:  Your vet may recommend a regimen of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Injection: Many owners of older dogs have seen great improvements in their pet’s arthritis with a 4 week injection course of a product with pentosan eg; Cartrophen Vet. The frequency of treatment varies from once a year for mild cases and up to three times a year for severe cases of arthritis. Cartrophen Vet is a prescribed veterinary medicine which is provided by your vet.

Be mindful that all medications have side effects, so be sure to discuss the prescribed drugs in detail so you can decide the best course of treatment for your pet. 

Heart warmers
Pets are wonderful companions and loving members of the family. Snuggle up and stay warm together this winter, and remember, there’s nothing like lots of cuddles to keep the winter blues at bay!

Rebecca Sykes
Share this article
Find the perfect pet