While your pet may seem fascinated and even excited by the change of weather that occurs during the winter, the truth is that they can experience significant and uncomfortable health issues as a result of this change. Because of this, they require extra special care to help them cope with winter weather and to help them remain comfortable and healthy throughout the winter season.
Weather Changes and Your Pet’s Health
The cooler temperatures experienced during winter can adversely affect a pet’s respiratory system, causing sinus and other breathing issues. Pets that suffer from arthritis and other joint issues can have these problems exacerbated by the colder weather, which means that senior pets are especially susceptible to grave discomfort during the winter. Pets that spend a lot of or all of their time outdoors can suffer paw cracks, an ungroomed coat, and other difficulties. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent or treat all these problems:
- Prepare their sleeping area. If your pet lives and sleeps outdoors, it is critical that you ensure they have a sleeping area that is both wind and waterproof. Their crate or shelter should be raised above the ground, and have a thick, warm blanket for them to lay on. If your pet lives and sleeps indoors, it is still important to ensure that your pet is warm and comfortable. Their pet bed should be large enough that their entire body will fit inside, and you should try to cover them with a blanket if they will permit it.
- Keep them well-fed. While it is important not to overdo it and make your pet ill, you will want to feed them a slight bit more during the winter time. This extra food will provide your pet with extra energy to help them keep their body warm. If you are unsure about the exact amount, check with your veterinarian. Also ensure they constantly have access to plenty of fresh water, as the drier air will drain them of much-needed moisture.
- Engage in light exercise and activities. Physical exercise and activities are important to your pet’s physical and mental health, especially during the long winter months. However, you may not be able to spend much time outdoors, so you will also have to create indoor games and activities.
- Protect your pet’s paws. Your pet’s delicate pads can become quite abused by the cold, wet weather–especially if they are walking on sidewalks and streets that have been treated by salt or other chemicals. If your pet won’t permit you to put Velcro straps or booties on their paws, you must at least be sure to thoroughly clean their paws when you return home.
- Prepare your home. If it is at all possible, you should consider allowing your pet to spend the majority of their time in your home, where they will be warmer and more comfortable. Make sure that you do not have dangerous items, like antifreeze, lying about for your pet to find. It’s also a good idea to get them some new toys to play with, as this will help make being indoors less boring and more entertaining.
It’s true that the winter season may require you to change your pet’s daily schedule and routine, but considering that such changes can help to ensure their health and comfort, it is well worth the effort. Your pet will undoubtedly thank you, and you will be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they are well prepared for all the challenges winter can bring.