Caring for pets during winter
Winter is a good time to think about looking after the health of the whole family - and that includes our pets.
Here are a few practical ways to help keep your cat or dog happy and healthy all winter long.
Keep up to date with vaccinations
Check with your vet that you’re up to date with vaccinations. Some vaccinations needed annually, while for others, a booster is recommended every three years.
Provide warm shelter
Create a warm, dry place for your pet to take shelter from bad weather (read our tips on keeping your pet warm).
Keep their ‘home’ clean
Regularly clean any food bowls, toys, and blankets. This helps reduce the number of bacteria the immune system has to deal with. A mild dish soap, followed by a very good rinse is all you need for bowls and other items can go straight in your washing machine.
Be kind about those aches and chills
If your cat or dog lives with arthritis, remember they may feel it more during winter. Soft blankets and a warm place to rest on can help (think old duvets). It also important to maintain a complete and balanced diet that is appropriate for their life stage and condition.
Watch the exercise and diet
Cats and dogs can exercise less in winter and gain weight, so keep up with the walks (yes, even when it’s raining) and play games with your cat inside. If they’re putting on a ‘winter- waist’, you may like to talk to your vet about their diet.
Keep sick pets hydrated, warm and apart.
If your cat shows mild ‘flu’ like symptoms, (e.g. a runny nose or eyes), keep them well- hydrated, warm, and let them rest – and keep them apart from other cats in the household if you are able to. If symptoms persist or become more severe, see your vet immediately.
Be vigilant about extreme weather
Most cats and dogs shouldn’t be out for long in any weather under 0 degrees Celsius. It can lead to hypothermia, which may be life-threatening. Some signs to look out for include:
- Shivering (or severe shivering that suddenly stops)
- Pale lips and gums
- Low energy
- Loss of coordination
If you think your cat or dog has hypothermia, contact your vet immediately for advice.