With the cold weather approaching it's time to think about ways to keep your furry friends from suffering during the cooler months.
Lithgow Veterinary Hospital vet nurse Erin Stevenson spoke to the Lithgow Mercury about ways in which we can keep our pets warm.
Why is it important to keep our pets warm during Winter?
It's vital to keep pets warm in Winter for their health and well-being because being cold takes a huge toll on the body and prolonged exposure could be dangerous.
Cold animals are prone to illness and disease, joint pain and arthritis can also become a lot worse in the colder weather. If your pet is cold they will expend a lot of energy trying to keep warm meaning that their body condition may suffer and you might notice your pet dropping weight and their coat becoming dull. Very young animals and older animals are most at risk.
So, what can we do to keep our pets comfortable and warm?
If you have a small dog, they often don't have a lot of body fat to spare and will struggle to keep warm by themselves if left outside.
I recommend to bring them inside, even if it is a laundry or bathroom they are sheltered from wind and rain. They can be left to rest peacefully in the warm and will spend less energy in trying to maintain their body temperature.
...What about our bigger furry friends?
I understand it can be hard to have a big dog inside as much as we love the idea of all pets being cosy and warm inside sometimes it's just not possible.
But, there are other steps you can take to make sure your dog is comfortable outside as the Winter chill steps in.
First step is making sure your dog has adequate shelter, something like a kennel where your dog can curl up away out of the wind and rain is ideal. Simply on the veranda or porch may not be enough.
Make sure the kennel has lots of warm, soft blankets to snuggle in with and if you can, raising the kennel off the ground with bricks or sleepers will also help keep it warm.
You can also buy microwaveable heat discs that you can put in their bedding on those super cold nights. Jackets are also a really good way to keep them warm, particularly for the short haired dogs.
Should we boost their diet intake?
It's important to make sure you're feeding your pets adequately.
Outside dogs will burn through a lot more fuel keeping warm than they would during summer when it's hot.. this isn't an excuse to go overboard and make your dog fat though.
Just keep an eye on their weight and maybe beef up dinner with some good quality kibble if you think they are starting to lose a bit of condition.
What happens if we don't do any of this?
If we ignore keeping our pets warm they can become hypothermic where their body temperature becomes so low their body systems cannot cope and if left untreated it can result in death.
If your pet's body is in a constant struggle to keep itself warm, it will naturally choose to divert its energy to the most important systems, leaving others to shut down and defend themselves.
One of the common systems that struggles is the immune system, which is vital for your pet to be able to fight off even the most simplest of virus and infections.
Arthritis can be a big problem, and not just in older pets. Studies have shown that one in five dogs over the age of just one year begin to show signs of arthritis. Keeping them warm will help ease this very painful disease, though often veterinary attention is required.
How can we prevent our animals from certain diseases they are prone to in Winter?
Vaccinate, it's that easy!
Cat Flu and Kennel Cough are both quite common along with arthritis, also be sure to keep your flea prevention all year round.
Lastly, our fur babies are like family so we should be looking after them, right?
Most people love and adore their animals and want to do everything they can for them. Sometimes people just don't know what to do and client education is important.
If we can spread awareness and explain how important it is to keep our fur babies warm and happy, then everyone one, pets and owners alike, will benefit.
If you have any questions or concerns on how to keep your pets warm during Winter contact Lithgow Veterinary Hospital on 6351 3269.
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