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How to have a happy, healthy pet during winter

At our Wahroonga animal clinic, we take winter seriously. As we enter the cooler weather, it’s time to think of how our pets will respond. Unlike us, our family pets can’t pop on the heater or let us know what they need. So it’s up to us as pet parents to ensure that comfort and health are maintained during the winter months.

Here are a few things to consider during winter and some ways that Fox Valley animal clinic helps you maintain your family pet’s health

Pet health checks to consider

Winter can have a few impacts on our pets that might not be present in the warmer months. As Dr Alex always says “prevention is better than cure”.

Even while he’s on his year of adventure, this Wahroonga animal clinic will remain true to that ethos.

The following are 3 scenarios where you should not hesitate to bring your pet into the animal clinic for a check-up at winter:

  • If your pet is showing signs of stiffness or a change in movement, especially when they have been resting or outside. This could mean they are having issues with the coldness and/or complaints such as arthritis
  • If your pet has a history of skin issues and/or contact allergies. Contact with rain, wet grass, soggy leaf litter and the thicker winter coat may disguise skin damage. Luckily, Dr Katie is great with skin health and can help you out with keeping it healthy during winter
  • If your pet is entering or in their senior years. We like to see older pets come in for a check-up around winter time to ensure if adjustments need to be made in terms of diet, bedding and exercise and/or if anti-inflammatory supports are required. Joint health, keeping muscles limber and warding off issues such as stiffness in bones and muscles as well as arthritis management are the priority here

Of course if you notice anything else important (such as eating habits, toileting, behaviour etc) changing during winter, please also bring your pet in for a vet check-up.

Changes to routine to keep in mind

When winter comes, it can be more difficult to find the motivation to exercise our pets. The shorter days, the colder weather and the rain, wind and storms all make it tough for pet and pet parent alike to keep moving.

However, it’s important to the health of a pet’s body that they are kept moving. It also helps ward off associated issues such as boredom, mental health decline and not receiving enough socialisation with other pets.

As an animal clinic, we’ve seen the impact of seasonal change on pet care. So we urge all our pet owners to remain vigilant and stick to a healthy routine.

A couple of things you may need to adjust in winter are:

The form of exercise

While walking out in a blowing gale with sheets of rain pouring may not be appealing, it’s still important to walk your dog when conditions are less dire.

You may also find that focusing on enrichment toys and puzzles help keep your pets active and stimulated inside both physically and mentally.

Ensuring dog socialisation occurs

Dogs still want company and friends to play with. One of the simplest ways to replace the vital exercise and socialisation received in the dog park during summer is with dog daycare or joining a dog training class.

Encouraging positive toileting habits

With cat and dog alike, if the weather is miserable, your pet may feel vulnerable when toileting outside. That’s why it may be wise to adjust positioning of litter boxes and/or don the raincoat and leash to demonstrate things aren’t as worrisome as they may seem.

Adapting feeding routines

Pets are far more active in the warmer months. So you may need to adjust the type and/or volume of food given. Our vet nurses can help with advice to ensure your pet is fed and happy without putting on too much weight.

You may also consider placing some of the daily food given in pet puzzles and toys to help encourage movement and make your pet work that little bit harder for their regular intake.

General warmth when asleep and awake

Our pets may come with those glorious feather and fur coats, but they still need our help to ward off the worst of the elements.

Make warm housing and bedding a priority

It’s important to remember that you may need to include additional straw, blankets and coverings to maintain warmth.  Move beds away from drafts and be mindful of the chill factor in the rooms where your pets regular sleep. This applies to both indoor and outdoor pets.

For outdoor pets and outdoor enclosures, you should check for leaks in rooves and shelters as well as make sure that the wind is blocked from sailing its icy fingers through. Keep to a regular routine of refreshing bedding and flooring materials to keep your pet comfortable, warm, dry and clean to make sure it’s not affected by rain and moisture in the air.

In the case of reptiles and tropical fish, you may also need to adjust their heating lamps and water temperature, depending on the enclosure and the influence of the drop in room temperature experienced.

 Use indoor and outdoor garments

When walking your door in the rain and chill, an all-weather raincoat or windcheater can really help keep your pet safe and warm. Fox Valley animal clinic stock two amazing all weather coats in our shop by Weatherbeetas.

These are fantastic all-weather jackets for outdoors or indoors. Available in two types:
PARKA – This is the warmest available and is rated at 1200DD (derniers) on the ski jacket / sleeping bag scale so you know that your pet will be comfortable at all times and in all conditions. They are also waterproof

WINDCHEATER – This is the lightweight, versatile covering.  It’s rated at 420 DD, is water resistant and also has a soft fleecy lining. It’s comfy and durable and made with active pets in mind with easy Velcro fastenings.
fox valley vet hospital rescue greyhoundWe also have a sensational range of pyjamas to make naptime fun in Doggy Jamas. These pyjamas are handmade in Australia and have lovely toasty polar fleeces. They are super comfy, with no big seams and come in a full kaleidoscope of colours available in all sizes.

Want that something special? You can even custom order in any size with contrasting cuffs and collars!

All our winter garments are perfect for keeping your pets warm and as such are perfect for old, stiff bones as well as the young at heart.

Want to see these great coverings for yourself? Pop on in to Fox Valley Animal Hospital and ask the vet nurses for advice to suit your pet’s needs.

Want more help to keep your pet happy, healthy and warm this winter? Call into Fox Valley animal clinic if you need something from the shop and our friendly vet nurses will assist you.

If you want an arthritis advice, advice on skincare or need a general check-up, book an appointment to see our vets on (02) 9489 4805

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.