With winter firmly set in, the tail-wagging companionship of a loyal dog or addictive purr of a feline friend is just the ticket to lighten the mood, making those dark cold nights all the more bearable. But, as with their owners, it seems even the happiest canines and fluffiest felines are likely to become a little down throughout the winter months.
“Although there’s no evidence to show that pets suffer from what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as people often do, they are known to echo humans, becoming downbeat during the winter months,” British vet Matt Brash, MRCVS, explained.
“This is a time of year can be really dull for pets. They have had a great time over Christmas — lots of walks, and extra treats — and now that we have all gone back to work, they can often get neglected. Boredom can lead to bad habits, like chewing the furniture, or messing in the house, so it is important to make sure that you keep them mentally and physically stimulated.” To keep them happy and healthy and winter, Brash shares his top tips.
7 Tips to Keep Pets Happy and Well During Winter
Tone down the treats: If you and your pet have had one too many treats over the festive period, be sure to get them back on the straight and narrow with a nutritionally appropriate diet, in addition to regular walks or exercise.
Winter Walks: As we’re all are prone to hibernating more in the winter months due to the dark nights and poorer weather, we might walk our pets less, making them prone to putting on weight. This can lead to sad dogs, so it is important to make sure they still get their walks regardless of the dark nights.
Flea Treatments: As the weather gets colder, we turn our central heating on to warm the house more frequently. However, this can wake up dormant fleas, leading to an increase in flea activity in the house, itchy dogs, and people getting bitten. It is important to make sure flea treatments are up to date.
Wash paws: If the weather gets really cold suddenly, then salt will be spread out on the roads and pavements to melt ice. This can be very sore on dogs’ and cats’ paws, leading to chemical burns. It’s a good idea to bathe dogs feet when they come back in for a walk, and same goes for cats who venture outdoors.
Wrap up warm: Short-coated dog breeds, like boxers, greyhounds, and Chihuahuas struggle to cope with the cold, so it’s important to wrap them up with a coat when they venture outside for walks.
Stay away from frozen lakes or ponds: Make sure you keep your dog on a leash if you are near frozen water. If they happen to run on to the ice, don’t go after them — try to beckon them back from the edge of the water.
Bad Habits: Both dogs and cats will spend more time indoors not getting walks, which can lead to boredom and developing bad habits like chewing things like shoes and the carpet. It’s a good idea to make sure that they also have lots of things to do to keep them occupied.
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