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10 tips for keeping your pet happy and healthy this winter

Zoe the Vet share's her tips on keeping our pets happy and healthy this winter.

Winter is here and it’s tempting to snuggle up with your pet by the fire and stay put.  Cats will love you for this but dogs may get a bit bored and mischievous!  If your cat does venture out make sure that they can get back into the warm easily as cats left in the cold will often go in search of warm places and can end up trapped without food.  If in doubt keep your cat inside.  Dogs will not thank you for this however. If you have a dog you should be prepared to venture out in all weathers to ensure that they get the mental and physical exercise that they need.  There are a few other ways that you can ensure your pet stays happy and healthy this Christmas. This article will give you ten top tips for winter pet care.




 
  1. Watch your pet’s weight - Pets often get less exercise at this time of year.  Cats are reluctant to go out and it can be difficult to give dogs as many walks as the nights draw in.  Remember if your pet is not as active reduce their food ration a little so they do not put on extra weight over the winter.
  2. Grooming - It is very important to keep on top of grooming at this time of year.  Grooming Dogs with long fur between their toes can get ice and mud balls forming on their feet if their hair is not trimmed.  Grooming cats with Long hair can also get ice balls forming on their coats if they venture out in the snow.
  3. Check your dog’s feet - If you walk your dog on salted pavements then it is important to wash their feet when you get home.  Salt and grit can be very irritating and can cause painful sores.
  4. Buy a dog coat - If your dog has a thin hair coat or is elderly then consider buying them a coat to keep them snug and warm.
  5. Beware of antifreeze – Antifreeze is extremely toxic to cats.  If swallowed it can lead to kidney failure.  Cats will often lick up antifreeze spills as it tastes sweet so be vigilant and clean up any spills thoroughly. 
  6. Ensure cats can get back inside – Cats that are left outside when it gets very cold will often seek out warm places to hide such as car engines and sheds.  They may become trapped without food or water in a shed or worse sustain serious injury if an engine is started.  If in doubt keep your cat inside if the temperature drops very low.  
  7. Check water – If your pet normally lives outside or is a fussy cat that only likes to drink rain water, ensure that they still have access to their usual water supply outside by breaking ice regularly.  Ensure that there is always access to clean fresh water inside too and consider using rain water instead of tap water inside if that’s what your cat prefers.
  8. Provide a litter tray - If your cat normally toilets outside it may be best to supply them with a litter tray if the weather gets very cold.  Some cats will hold onto urine so long that they become predisposed to getting a blocked bladder because they will not venture outside into the cold to urinate.
  9. Dress up warm and get out – If you and your pet are experiencing the winter blues then dress up warm and go for a walk. There’s nothing like a bit of fresh air and exercise to perk you both up.
  10. Look after outside dogs  - If your dog normally stays outside make sure that they have extra dry bedding at this time of year.  If the temperature drops very low consider a heat lamp and provide them with extra food as they will need the calories to keep warm.


If you have any particular queries or concerns regarding winter pet care, ask our vets – they will be happy to help out with expert advice.