Have you noticed that your pet’s behaviour changes in winter? Here in Australia we may be lucky that our winters are not as severe as they are in other parts of the world but winter warmth is still important as our animals still have to adapt to this colder season.
Some of the changes you may see in your pet’s behaviour include:
- Staying indoors, when given the choice of inside and outdoors, especially in windy, wet or cold weather.
- Shivering when lying still.
- Being more reluctant to get out of bed in the morning. This can be due to arthritis or other medical conditions that get worse in winter but may also be a simple case of lethargy.
- Curling up next to heaters or on your lap. Cats especially enjoy a cuddle with you or another animal during the winter months.
- Sneezes, sniffles and runny noses. Just like us, our pets may get colds and flus.
- Depression. Pets are thought to suffer from the winter blues and may benefit from a little more sunshine in their lives.
There are ways you can help your pet get through the winter months. At the same time there are potential dangers that should not be overlooked.
Winter warmth tips…
- Make sure your pet has a regular check up with your vet and gets any necessary medication for illnesses and ailments eg. arthritis, that are likely to get worse over winter.
- Give your pet access to a warm bed, out of reach of any drafts. If you like, you can indulge them with a hot water bottle (not too hot)..
- Ensure your pet has an adequate supply of water and, if you live in a very cold area, that it has not frozen therefore becoming inaccessible.
- If your pet is especially energetic or active he or she may benefit from a small increase in their daily portion of food.
- Indulge your pet by making or buying warm clothing. Short haired or smaller dogs who lose body heat rapidly may benefit the most.
- Get your pet warmed up and active by encouraging them to walk or play with you. Most dogs will be motivated by treats.
Watch out for…
- Open fires – many pets’ coats get singed from sitting a little too close!
- Heaters that can be easily knocked over by a boisterous puppy or a curious cat.
- Cats sleeping in cosy corners under or on top of cars
- Feeding your pet too much or indulging in treats that are bad for your pet. Just because you do does not make it right!
- Wet, damp or drafty areas. Your pet will appreciate warm, dry spots to get away from the cold.
- Colds and flus that are more serious than the common cold. They need to be checked by a vet.
- Don’t assume changes in your pet’s behaviour are purely because of a change of seasons. Always ask your vet if you are worried about any aspect of your pet’s health or behaviour.