How to care for your pets this winter
Picture: Supplied by City Farmers

How to ensure your pets are happy and healthy when the temperature drops.


Protection from the elements

Veterinarian Joanne Vanderzwan, from Maylands Vet, said that for dogs and cats, an area or kennel protected from rain and prevailing winds was ideal, with a bed off the ground if the area was prone to getting wet. Some pets, such as very young, old, arthritic or sparsely haired dogs or cats, should be kept inside on padded bedding away from drafts, she added.

Ingrid Danylyk, veterinarian at Wattle Grove Veterinary Hospital, said it was also important to remember pet birds.

"Birds should be kept in a protected area out of the wind," she said. "Some foliage in the cage will help to keep them warm. Birds such as budgies and cockatiels like branches from Australian natives such as bottlebrush to huddle in."


Staying active

Just because it is cold outside does not mean your dog will not need is regular walk, Ms Vanderzwan said.

"If you are unable to take them out for walks due to more extreme weather then be sure to stimulate your dog in other ways such as obedience training, providing appropriate toys and engaging in active play with your furry pal."


Cold-weather ailments

Ms Vanderzwan said arthritis symptoms in dogs and cats could become more obvious during winter.

"With the change to cold and possibly damp conditions you may notice that your pet has difficulty getting out of bed or is stiff when they first start walking around," she said.

"Other signs of arthritis can be a reluctance to do things they did with ease before such as jumping into and out of the car, getting up and down from furniture or losing their enthusiasm for play and going for walks."

To help ease discomfort, Ms Vanderzwan recommended providing warm bedding that is easy to get out of, and contacting your vet who may recommend diet management, massage or acupuncture.


Storm phobias

With most dogs, the noise of thunder is the main trigger for storm phobias.

If you know a storm is coming, Ms Vanderzwan recommended putting the dog in an area where it felt safe and secure as a lot of phobic dogs might try to run away.

She also suggested leaving a TV on to provide background noise. A reassuring "talk" and calm, slow pats could also help.

Ms Vanderzwan said there were various treatment strategies such as desensitisation and counter-conditioning which your vet could advise you on, as well as medications that could be used as an adjunct to therapy.


Grooming

It is extra-important to keep up with grooming during winter, according to Lexie Goldsmith, of Lexie's Dog and Cat Grooming.

"The coat is natural insulation," she said. "It needs to be kept clean and groomed to prevent matting to do what it is supposed to do - to insulate."

The West Australian

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