Hot dogs and cosy cats: Winter care for your pets

Everything you need to know to keep your furry friends safe as the chill sets in.

There’s almost nothing more adorable than a dog (or cat) in a chic knitted jumper, and a quick scroll through Instagram confirms that as fact. But beyond making a fashion statement, there are plenty of other things you should be thinking about when it comes to keeping your pets comfy and warm as the cooler air arrives. 

DO top up the water bowl

It may seem obvious, but when it’s not sweltering hot it can be harder to remember to refill the water bowl. “If your pets spend a lot of time indoors, it’s especially important they have access to water as [any] heating can dehydrate them quickly,” says Veterinary Director Dr Kin Yip from Greencross Vets, Subiaco, WA. “If you live in a particularly cold area, be sure to check your pet’s water bowl regularly to make sure that it hasn’t iced over.” On average, dogs require 50ml of water per body kilogram daily. A 20kg dog will drink about four cups per day.

DON’T forego grooming

There’s no denying dogs with fluffy coats look like they’ve got winter all worked out. But your pet still needs to be groomed all year round. “Many pet parents leave their dogs and cats coats to grow long over winter in an attempt to keep them warm, but this can lead to some skin problems, matting and long hours of brushing, trying to get out knots. Ensure your pet is comfortable and continue to get them clipped to a manageable length,” advises Dr Kin Yip. 

DO create a cosy sleep space

Is your pet likely to snuggle with you at night – or are they strictly outside-sleepers? Ensuring they’re comfortable (and warm) during their daily and nightly snooze-fest is essential as the chill sets in. It’s important to remember that older and shorthaired dogs are more susceptible to the chill. “Winter is the perfect time to reconsider where to house your pet overnight,” says Dr Kin Yip. “If your pet sleeps outside, provide them with a warm place to lie, use thicker bedding, warm jackets and even microwavable heat pillows if necessary.”

Winter care for pets

 

DON’T forget the vet

Of course, all pets need their regular checkups, especially if they’re pushing elderly status. Dr Kin Yip says that older pets in particular are susceptible to chilly temperatures and you may notice them start to slow down over the winter months. Twice yearly checkups are important for early detection of disease and illness. It’s estimated that 20% of dogs and 33% of cats suffer from arthritis, and the cold can exacerbate the symptoms. See your vet if you think they’re in pain.

DO brave the elements

Okay, we’re not saying you should take Fido for a run in a hailstorm, but winter’s frosty climate is no excuse for staying indoors. Dr Kin Yip says it's essential that dogs get enough exercise in the winter months. "Even if the chilly weather means you're more reluctant to go outside, ensure your dog gets enough exercise to prevent boredom and keep them at a healthy weight. The same goes for cats who may be more reluctant to move around a cold house or go outside," she says. In Australia, it’s estimated that 44% of dogs and 40% of cats are overweight. Regular walking and exercise can help keep their weight at bay.