By Shweta Batra*
COMMON MYTH: PETS HAVE A COAT OF FUR, THEY CAN TOLERATE THE COLD BETTER THAN HUMANS!
This isn’t necessarily the case. Like us, our fur-coated creatures are used to the warmth of indoor shelter, and cold weather can be as hard on them as it is on us humans. Whatever your viewpoint on the winter season, one thing remains certain: it’s a time when our beloved pets need a little extra care.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR FURRIEND THIS WINTER
1. PICKING THE RIGHT COAT/JACKET
Some dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, even in very cold temperatures, but dogs with thin coats may need to wear a sweater/coat when out for winter walks. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and also protect the belly. You can choose swanky sweaters, warm dresses, coats and jackets for your pet based on their breed and age requirements.
2. WARM AND COZY BEDDING
In addition to limiting your pet’s time outdoors on cold days, don’t let your pooch sleep on a cold floor during winters. Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your pet stays warm. Warm blankets can create a snug environment; however your fur baby is most likely to remove the same while sleeping! You can provide soft furry beds for dogs, and Tunnel shape cozy beds for cats to make sure your pets stay warm through the cold winter nights.
Dry and cold weather can do a lot of damage to your pet’s skin and coat. Help prevent dry, flaky skin by regularly adding a skin and coat supplement to their food. Coconut oil is a good natural moisturiser that can help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy. If you find your pet’s paws, ears or tail dry or cracking, you can also apply coconut oil topically as required. Alternatively, you could also try using paw creams that will keep their paws well moisturised.
4. MAKE THE MOST OF THE SUN
If your dog feels the cold, try to walk him in the late morning or early afternoon hours when temperatures are a little warmer, and avoid early morning or late evening walks. Spend time playing outdoors while it’s sunny. Sunshine brings the added benefit of providing both you and your pet with Vitamin D. Play fetch with toys, not sticks which can cause choking and other injuries. So, if your dog likes to chew and chase, pack a Frisbee, ball or other safe toy and play together in the sun.
5. KEEP THEM WELL HYDRATED… BUT DO NOT OVERFEED
Although pets may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behaviour and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your pet’s activity level and adjust their calories with high quality, whole foods to help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months. Some good dog food brands include Acana, Orijen, Taste Of The Wild and Farmina’s N & D. Also, keep your pet well hydrated and make sure they have access to a water bowl at all times.
6. PET GROOMING
Your pet needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep them properly insulated. This is especially important if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors. It is essential to dry your dog thoroughly after bathing, especially before allowing them outside in the cold weather. Thus, it is recommended to visit a groomer to ensure that your pet is thoroughly dry after bathing. Always ensure that the grooming area is well-ventilated and the temperature of the dryer is not very hot.
7. CARING FOR THE AGED
Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm, soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already give your senior dog a natural joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winters. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during the winter weather.
Keep these winter care tips in mind and enjoy everything winter has to offer. And don’t forget that winter cuddles with your canine buddy are a great way for everybody to keep warm!