With winter in full effect, the tail-wagging companionship of a loyal dog or the addictive purr of a feline friend is just the ticket to lighten the mood and make those dark cold nights all the more bearable. But like their owners, it seems even the happiest of canines and fluffiest of felines are likely to become a little down during the winter months, as well.
“Although there's no evidence to show that pets suffer from what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, as people often do, they are known to echo humans, becoming downbeat during the winter months," Veterinarian and star of TV series Zoo Vet at Large Matt Brash said.
“This is a time of year [that] can be really dull for pets.. They have had a great time over Christmas, lots of walks, and extra treats, and now that we have all gone back to work they can often get neglected. Boredom can lead to bad habits, like chewing the furniture, or messing in the house, so it is important to make sure that you keep them mentally and physically stimulated.”
Brash and Co-op Insurance share their top tips for keeping pets happy this winter.
Seven Tips to Keep Pets Happy and Well During the Winter
Tone down their treats. If you and your pet have had one too many treats over the holiday season, be sure to get them back on track with a nutritionally appropriate diet in addition to regular walks or exercise.
Go on a few winter walks. We're all prone to hibernating during the winter months when the nights get darker and the weather gets poorer, causing us to walk our pets less, which makes them prone to gaining weight. This can lead to sad dogs, so it is important to make sure they still get their walks, regardless of the dark nights. If you are unable to walk them, be sure to cut down on their food intake.
Give them flea treatments. As the weather gets colder, we turn our heating on to warm the house, which can wake up dormant fleas. Meaning there might be an increase in flea activity in the house, which leads to itching dogs. (Humans can get bitten, too.) It is important to make sure flea treatments are up to date.
Wash their paws! If there's any snow or ice outside, salt will be more than likely be spread out on the roads and sidewalks, causing sore paws for our pets. Salt can even cause chemical burns. It's a good idea to wash dogs' and cats' feet after they've been outside.
Wrap up your animals so they stay warm. Short-coated dog breeds, such as Boxers, Greyhounds, and Chihuahuas, struggle to cope with the cold, so it's important to wrap them up with a coat when they venture outside for walks.
Stay away from frozen lakes or ponds. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash if you are near frozen water. If they happen to run on to the ice, don't go after them — try to beckon them back from the edge of the water.
Break your pets' bad habits. Both dogs and cats will spend more time indoors, which can lead to boredom. They can start developing bad habits such as chewing shoes and the carpet. It's a good idea to make sure that they also have lots of toys to keep them occupied.
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