Winter Health Tips for Pets

* by Lannie 

Cold weather is notoriously bad for health. The winter months bring cold and flu season, and the lack of sunshine and fresh air can make even the happiest person a little depressed. Believe it or not, the same is true for pets. Dogs and cats have their own set of struggles through the coldest months of the year. Here are some tips to help keep your furry friends comfy, cozy and cold-free!

Get a Checkup

Your pet needs regular health checkups to make sure everything’s in tip-top shape. It’s best to schedule these checkups as the weather changes so your vet can give you the best wellness plan for the upcoming season.

Make Sure Your Pet Is Warm

Pets feel cold just like people do. While it’s true that they have a built-in fur coat, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to leave pets outdoors for extended periods of time during chilly weather. If you have outdoor pets, make sure they have a nice warm place to snuggle up during cold weather. If possible, the best advice is to keep pets indoors during winter (with frequent outdoor breaks for exercise and potty time, of course). If your pet is older, seems frail, or is otherwise more susceptible to the cold, you might consider adding a sweater to keep the cold at bay.

Don’t Shave Your Pet

Your pet’s coat of fur is there for a reason. In the wintertime, it helps keep Fido or Fluffy nice and warm. As the weather gets colder, you can keep up the grooming, but make sure you skip any shaving or clipping of your pet’s winter coat. Your animal will need it very soon. Again, if your pet has short hair, consider adding a sweater to protect against the cold.

Keep an Exercise Routine

Because they’re spending so much more time indoors, it’s imperative that you maintain a regular exercise routine for your pets. This could be as simple as a few walks per day, but you could also consider playing Frisbee or fetch with your dog so you both get some good exercise. Cats are harder to play with, but they usually love traipsing around the yard for a half hour or so – just make sure you bring them in when they get cold.

Stay on Top of the Meds

As the winter months roll in, it may be tempting to skip some of your pet’s medication, especially preventive ones like flea and tick medication. While you may see fewer bugs in the winter, fleas, ticks, and heartworms are still a problem. If you’ve experienced fleas in the summer, you’ll definitely want to keep up with the medication now; studies show year-round prevention is the best method to eradicate these pesky bugs for good. Try giving your pets chewable tablets, like Trifexis which is the perfect trifecta of parasite prevention for dogs.

Check the Heat in Your Home

There are lots of good reasons to get a heat inspection for your home each year. For one, it can help prevent huge repair bills down the road, but it can also keep your whole family safe. If you have a gas furnace, you’ll want a yearly inspection to check for carbon monoxide leaks and other issues. You should also change your filters at the start of every season (and at least once a month) to keep allergens and bacteria away.

Finally, remember to watch your pet around other heat sources, like your fireplace and space heaters. Pets will often flock to these areas, looking for warmth. It’s easy for a pet to get too near a fire or accidentally knock over a heater, so make sure you provide constant supervision when using these sources of heat.

 

**Lannie is a writer for Allivet. Allivet provides affordable pet supplies and pet medications, all of which can be purchased online.

“I Heart My Pet” campaign

I Heart My Pet campaign

This campaign is run by the National Office for Animal Health (NOAH) with one main purpose in mind – to encourage pet owners to seek preventative healthcare advice for their animals. The NOAH report from 2011 shows that over 50% of pet owners usually forget to vaccinate their pets – the results of this study were put into a fun infographic, which I featured earlier on my blog.

A new study of over 2,000 UK pet owners has revealed that more than three quarters (77%) believe their pet’s health is as important as, or more than, their own. If the numbers are right, it means that we are going in the correct direction.

So why do I heart my pets?

There are a lot of reasons but mainly because they are fantastic companions… they do not judge me or care if I wear my PJs all day long because I am having a lazy patch… They are there for me when I need them and will always listen to my rants, plans or dreams… They make me a better person. They mobilizing me to get up in the morning, to prepare meals, to play and when it is time they come for a cuddle. Yes, sometimes it is hard work to own 4 pets, especially two big dogs. With the current weather as it is the daily walks become more like a chore than a pleasure, but it has to be done… All four of them are totally different, but they have one thing in common I love them all!

Lilly – because she is our princess!
Lilly – because she is our princess!

She came from a rescue place, never walked, kept in the garden and scared of most things. We worked with her to overcome her fears, taught her some basic obedience and good manners and as a result we have the most loyal dog one can imagine. She is a fantastic guard dog, who loves to sleep on our bed and will never take any food from strangers. She always looks sad (not sure why, but she does) until you say “walkie, walkie…” then her whole face lights up and she is ready for a new adventure…

Bunk – because he has this look!
Bunk – because he has this look!

There is a lot of work involved around Newfoundland’s – all the brushing, cleaning, grooming and of course the gloop… but it is all worth it. This is my first Newfie and I am amazed by this breed… so caring, gentle and understanding… you can really see it in their eyes.

Mr. Ginger – because he is always ready for cuddles
Mr. Ginger – because he is always ready for cuddles

Mr. Ginger is a weird cat, he is more dog-like to be honest, but we love him for it. He walks with us on the morning dog walk, he eats from the dog bowls and he is always ready for cuddles. No matter what time of the day or night it is, as long as he is home, you can just go and pick him up, put him on your laps and off you go… let the cuddle sessions begin.

Ode – because he is the magnificent! btw he hates paparazzis
Ode – because he is the magnificent!
btw he hates paparazzis

Ode is one of those cats, who could rule the planet. There is something special about him. He moves with grace like he owns the place. He spends nights in and days out… and he is always outside the front door when dinner time comes… I am still unsure how he does it and how he knows (it is not like every day dinner is served at the same time… sometimes it is 2+ hours off) but he is always there, yet if you open the door before dinner time he isn’t there!

So, whatever your reasons for loving your pets – do love them, but remember: we have the choice they don’t.

Once we decide to become a pet owner, we are responsible for them and I hope we can all rise to the challenge and be as good as we possibly can be!

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