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Getting Ready for Winter
As the temperatures slowly begin to plummet, Nadia Crighton takes a look at the precautions to take to ensure our pets stay warm and dry.
Winter is certainly on its way. As the afternoons turn to darkness and the morning alarm singing sends shivers down your spine it’s time to start considering some winter warmth’s for your pets.
Most dogs and cats will go in and out of seasonal changes without much fuss. However, some animals need a little extra love and attention as the cooler weather approaches.
It’s no surprise that our older pets struggle with the cooler weather. For some reason my old cat Rupert, simply hates toileting outside as soon as the temp drops and we end up having little ‘treats’ in our shower every morning. At the ripe old age of 17, I can’t blame him for not wanting to venture out into the frosty morning, but needless to say this habit is mighty annoying. We have now taken steps to ensure there is a kitty litter box in the shower every night to accommodate his need to toilet in the warmth (much easier than putting waterproof booties on him, I guess?).
Some pets will need additional support like kitty litter boxes inside and the like.
Older pets feel the cold with many showing some symptoms of arthritis and stiffness as the cooler weather approaches. Making sure your older pooch and cat is kept warm is paramount. Place beds in the sunlight, add additional blankets, and consider a dog coat for the cold nights. For older cats you can also purchase heat pads that you pop into their beds. These are great for cooler nights. In my experience putting a coat on a cat is not only hilarious, it’s also impossible to keep on. With all of my cats, attempting to put on a coat has seen the freeze and drop to the ground (I’m sure they think something has caught them). It’s just not practical, heat pads and moving bedding into sun-drenched windows is much easier.
If your older pet is showing signs of arthritis, pop off to the vet for a quick check. The treatments available today are simply amazing and you’ll be surprised how quickly your older pet returns to their happy self.
If you have a heavy coat dog or cat you’ll find that they will cope very well in the winter conditions, as long as they don’t spend too much time curled up by the fire or their body may not actually trigger that it’s winter! Yes I have known of Alaskan Malamutes who have burned their fur from sitting too close to heaters in an attempt to keep warm.
As their new heavy coat grow in, make sure you keep up with your grooming to prevent matting. Matting can be a huge problem for heavy coated cat breeds, it is not only painful (as the matts become so entangled they pull on the cats skin), they’re also a pain to get out. Do not be tempted to cut the hair-matts out of a cats fur, particularly close to the skin as it can end in tears for all involved! Instead use a specialized comb. The trick with preventing this is to groom your animal regularly, at least once a week. Keep a kitty brush on the couch and every time kitty comes for a cuddle give him/her a quick groom.
Beds, Food, Coats
Think about picking your animals bed up off the floor, trampoline beds are wonderful for this. This is particularly important if your pet sleeps on tiles, concrete and even wooden floors, as it can get very cold. Ensuring your pet’s bed is nice and warm will also help, but please never use wheat bags or hot water bottles as they can over heat and cause burns.
If you think your dog needs some additional warmth consider a good fitting dog-coat. You can now get dog-coats for all occasions. Water-proof ones for walking and nice snuggly ones for sleeping. They can also make a real fashion statement if you want to stand out from the pack! Make sure the coat is fitted correctly and is not too tight or too loose.
Many dogs do not drink enough water during winter months. A good way to ensure your dog is getting some additional water, while adding some warmth, is to pop some warm stock over their dinner. A teaspoon of vegimite into some warm water also works a treat, or an ordinary stock cube. Make sure the water is warm not hot. This is also good for older pets as it can help soften the food a little, which is good on old teeth and gums.
Enjoy your winter snuggles! Purring hot water bottles and snoring feet cuddles are very welcomed around this time of year.