Dr. Evan here!
Well, just like that Winter is truely beginning to announce itself in Australia. Now is the time to drag out the blankets and uggies, blow the summer dust off the heater and stock up on soup. But WAIT! What about our besties? It’s important to remember that our four-legged friends are feeling it just as much as you are too!
So, how can we safely keep our furry family members warm in the winter?
- Coats and Jackets
Nothing’s as cute as a pug in a hoodie or a kitten in a beanie either. However clothing for our pets isn’t just fashionable, it’s totally functional, especially for those little ones with shorter coats.
There are so many options nowadays when it comes to coats, hats and jackets for our little or even big fur-family members. Follow the Swans? You can pick up the jersey online. Got a comical or political statement you live by (Pug Life)? There’s at least 20 lines of accessories available that can fulfil the fashionista in even the most discerning of Dashies!
But before I go full fur-crazy, I have some advice to make sure your little floof, is a comfy floof. Firstly, always make sure that your pet has ample space to breathe. You’d be surprised how many pups have their jackets on a bit tight… Also, make sure the coat itself can breathe and isn’t made from synthetic materials. Even on a cool day, a doggie in a faux-leather jacket can get really uncomfortable, especially if they are in the sun. Remember that pups can’t sweat either so watch the panting for signs you pooch might need a cool down. Also make sure there are no dangling cords or buttons that can be easily swallowed or cause constriction.
- Cut the cut and hang up the hose.
First of all let’s get something straight about your pet’s coat. A pet’s coat is NOTHING like a jumper or parker, especially a dog’s. The best way to think of it is that a dog’s coat works far more like the insulation on your favourite esky. It not only keeps them warm in winter but also cool in summer. I’m going to do a blog on just how K9 and Feline thermoregulation works next time but in short, how a pet’s coat works is incredibly different to what human presume. Shaving their fur (even in summer) can have a really negative effect on their well-being as it’s used to regulate their temperature. If you do need to trim or groom your pet, limit the trim to the feet and muzzle and remember to bath them indoors with warm water. Blow dry them dry (or have a super-extended towel wrestle!) before letting them back outside again. We all know the struggle of having to get out of the shower first thing in the morning so let’s make sure everyone’s all dry, warm and snuggly.
- Provide warm and dry shelter for your pet over winter
If you can, keeping your little buddies inside over the winter period is definitely ideal, however, it is understandable if your dog is primarily an outdoor pet that changing their sleeping habits can be a bit tricky. A kennel or box filled with blankets for your pooch will be welcomed when the frosty mornings hit and having a toasty bed under their own little roof to help escape the chill will make them super happy. As for cats, they should never be let out at night as, on average, they kill around 20 native Australian animals each night in mice, lizards and other furries, accounting for around 1 billion natives dying each year due to cats.
- Cutie Booties
If you’re lucky enough to live in a snowy country (or you get some serious frosts), you may have to provide Ugg’s for your pugs. Always remember to introduce these slowly! Boots are a foreign concept to most dogs and can sometimes take some time to get used to… Some pups just don’t like it but remember, treats are your friend. Start with trying just one on one foot for 5 minutes then, over a week or so, introduce more shoes and for longer periods until your pup can almost lace their own.
5. For the Oldies
For those of us that aren’t such spring chickens any more we have to keep a special eye out for them. With a range of inflammatory and arthritic conditions affecting older pets, active warming or medications becomes more necessary when it’s colder. Elderly pets suffer during the colder weather and may benefit from a visit to your local vet for a check-up if they are getting around a bit slower. A lot of medical conditions are exacerbated by the cold as it affects circulation, blood pressure and exercise.
I hope that with these tips, all our little buddies are toasty and dry this winter and remember one of the best ways to keep your pets (and you) warm is a great big cuddle in bed. So we say “get huggin”!!
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