Just like people, our pets can feel the cold too. Unfortunately, unlike us, our pets aren’t able to speak out when they’re in pain or sick and, with winter around the corner, certain underlying conditions, such as arthritis and cold weather illnesses like sniffles, can become problematic. “That’s why it’s extremely important to keep your furry family members warm, safe and healthy throughout the next few months so as to prevent any emergency vet visits and unnecessary costs, especially during these uncertain economic times,” explains David Roache, Managing Director of dotsure.co.za.
Roache provides the following tips to advise pet parents on how to care for their pets during the winter months:
Take your pet for a check-up – Under Level 4 of lockdown, vets are open for all non-emergency procedures and appointments. Dr. Lara Brown from Pinetown Veterinary Hospital explains that, along with their vaccines, your vet will do an overall physical and, if your pet has any underlying conditions that may flare up in winter, such as arthritis, they can advise you on a treatment plan. “A yearly check-up is important for all pets to update their vaccinations and to evaluate their overall health. In older patients or those on chronic medication, a check-up every six months is even more beneficial. Conditions such as heart murmurs and dental disease are often picked up at these check- ups before owners are even aware of a problem. This can allow for earlier treatment and management of any problems before they have progressed significantly. A check-up before winter also gives you the chance to ask about any signs of arthritis in your pet and the vet can then guide you on treatment and diagnostic options available.”
Pain management – If your pet does have arthritis, their aching joints, and colder outside temperatures, will mean that they may become less active. This can lead to weight gain, which then puts extra strain on already sore joints. “There are many joint supplements available for senior pets which can be hugely beneficial to managing arthritis, even in very early stages. Chat to your vet about what supplement is right for your pet,” adds Dr. Brown.
Long hair, don’t care – It’s advisable not to cut or shave your pet’s coat too short during the winter months. A longer coat and fur will provide your pet with extra warmth, however, with a longer coat comes added grooming needs, so make sure you brush your pet regularly to minimise the risk of their fur knotting and becoming matted.
Keep your pet indoors – Temperatures are at their coldest in the early mornings and at night, so it’s recommended to keep your pets indoors during these times. If your dog or cat isn’t a ‘sleep on the bed’ pet, why not create a warm, cosy nook for them in the kitchen or TV room? A soft bed with a couple of blankets and their favourite toy is perfect.
Warm threads – Some pets won’t wear a jersey, no matter how chilly they may be. In fact, when it comes to cats, they’re unlikely to wear an extra layer. However, if your dog will tolerate it, a jersey can help, especially when they are outside. It is important to remember though that your pet loses most of his body heat through the pads of his paws, ears, and respiratory tract, so there’s a limit as to how much warmth a jersey can provide.
ID tag, chip and insurance – Lost. Accident. Hurt. It’s words like these that make pet parents panic. Even just the thought of it is too much. However, it’s important to have all your ducks in a row for any possible situation. Make sure the information on your dog’s ID tag is up to date so you’re able to be contacted if he gets lost. If your cat refuses to wear a collar, make sure his chip details are current, and if he isn’t chipped, consider getting this done. In the event of an accident, unexpected illness, or injury, pet insurance is a necessity when it comes to getting your pet the best possible care, without leaving you wondering how you’re going to afford it.
Fewer baths – Unless your dog is visibly dirty, there’s no need to bath him too often in winter. Frequent washing can remove essential oils from your dog’s skin and increase his chance of it becoming dry and flaky. If bathing is the only option, your vet will be able to recommend a moisturising or medicated shampoo and rinse.
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