Winter can affect your fur baby as much as it does you!
The chilly winter weather is upon us. It's the time of the year where we grab out our warmest hoodies, woolie socks, scarves and beanies. Not many people would step outside with just shorts and a t-shirt (in a Melbourne winter that is).
But what about your pets?
Have you got their winter wardrobe ready for them to look as warm and stylish as you?
When the colder weather hits, you need to realise that your pet will feel it like you do. Sure, they've got a fur coat on, but for most pets, they're used to the warmer weather and live indoors. Like you, they're used to being warm and toasty during the day.
Let's have a look at some ways to keep your pet happy and warm this winter.
The top 5 ways winter can affect your pet
1. Heat seeking
Have you ever noticed that cats want to be your best mate in winter – they're eager to sit on your lap and, if they're lucky, sneak under your bed covers at night? And dogs are much the same, sitting a little closer to you on the couch at night.
Be careful of open fireplaces as animals tend to get right up close, and without realising, they may burn or singe their hair from the radiant heat. Also, cats have been known to jump onto warm car engines so if you can't find your cat in the morning, perhaps check under the bonnet before you leave!
2. Hungrier than normal
If your pet is polishing off their food quickly and bugging you for more, there's a reason! In the winter months, they work harder to regulate their core body temperature, so as a result, their appetite increases. Speak to your Vet about how to combat this without causing weight gain.
3. Grooming and skin conditions
Moisture from the air and rain can become trapped in your pet's fur, which can cause skin conditions during the winter months. If they've been outside or you're returning from a walk, make sure you thoroughly dry their feet (and in between their toes) with a towel.
Most furry pets also get a thicker coat over winter. You'll need to keep up regular grooming to prevent matting and knots and help your cat avoid furballs.
4. Feeling it in their bones
Like humans, animals suffering from arthritis will feel it more in the winter months. You'll notice they have more trouble getting up and waking due to increased joint pain. It's advisable to speak to your Vet to find out how you can manage arthritis, ease the symptoms and keep your pet comfortable.
5. Core temperature
In winter, you need to manage the cold felt by your pet. If they already have an underlying health issue, short coat or are old, they will feel the cold more than usual. As a result, their body is constantly battling their inner thermometer to stay warm. If an animal is too cold for too long (i.e. being exposed to low temperatures, left in the wind or rain, etc.), they risk developing hypothermia, leading to organ failure.
How to protect your pet (and keep them warm) during winter
Keep them indoors and sheltered from the elements in the cold weather
If they must be outside, make sure they have an enclosed kennel or cat run that’s warm, waterproof, windproof and elevated off the ground.
Give them a warm and cosy bed inside and extra blankets if they need and make sure it's away from window or door drafts and not on cold floor surfaces
Avoid hot water bottles or electric blankets and opt for blankets or microwave heat pillows if needed
Buy them some cute winter outfits, especially if they're short-haired, thin or old and make sure they have their coat on when you head out for a walk
Keep up your exercise routine and walk your dog when you can (i.e. not when it's raining or too cold)
If you can't get out for a walk, play with a ball inside, use toys for them to chase and so on
Don't overfeed your pets but speak to your vet if they're constantly begging for food (natural for this season)
Give them plenty of fresh water as spending time indoors can dehydrate them
If you're concerned about your pet's behaviour (moving slower etc.), make sure you get your vet to check over them
How do you keep your pet warm in winter?
If you've got any more ideas about keeping your pet warm and safe in winter, please feel free to share them in the comments below. We'd love to hear all your wonderful ideas. Or even pictures of your fur baby in their best winter outfit! Share away.