The winters are here and understanding how to take care of your dog during the season takes special consideration. Some long-haired breeds, such as German Shepherds and Huskies, are better suited to cold winters and love the weather, but even these dogs need protection as the temperature dips.
Winter is a time when you have to shield your furry friend carefully. Change in weather conditions, decreasing temperature and other dangers of winter may pose a number of expected and unexpected health threats to them. Therefore, being a responsible pet parent, you have to take care of your best friend just as you would for yourself with proper clothes, food and restriction from unnecessary outdoor activities.
According to Dr KG Umesh, Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, South Asia, Mars India, “By taking some basic precautions and paying attention to the needs of your four-legged friend, responsible pet owners can help their dogs make it through the winter in good health.
To keep your pet fit and healthy this season, make sure you’re feeding them an appropriate diet and following some simple indoor tips.
Feeding: Give your pet more food during cold weather than you do during hot months. Dogs, for example, may need up to 25 per cent more energy in the winter than they do in the summer, especially those who exercise outdoors. Pets need extra food because exercising outdoors in cold weather takes more energy. Ensure that you feed them energy-dense food like Pedigree “Active” or any other complete and balanced nutrition. However, please be cautious that pets are more likely to be prone to gain weight during winter time. Overweight pets are more likely to suffer injury and illness than pets who maintain a normal weight range.
Exercise: Most pets will not exercise by themselves, although they may play with another pet/family member or entertain themselves briefly with toys. Take advantage of breaks in the weather by taking short walks with your dog. Even a few minutes of exercise will help make a difference.
Dry Cleaning: Don’t neglect pet grooming in the winter. Your dog probably won’t get very dirty in the winter, and you may not need to bathe them. But if you do, it’s very important that you keep them warm after the shower. Towel him dry, or use a good dryer, and don’t let them go outside until dried. Instead of bathing them with water, you could try ‘dry’ bathing by brushing corn starch or baby powder.
The Big Chill: Don’t leave your pet outside for long because low body temperature (hypothermia) can lead to death. If the wind chill index is below 20 degrees, do not take small pets, older dogs and cats, or short-haired dogs outside. However, dress them in a knit sweater, if you wish to take them out. This will help them bear the chill.
Hair Shedding: Hair loss is a common complaint with dogs in India. Photoperiod (light intensity) is the main factor behind nutrition, genetics, health that can cause dogs to shed hair excessively during some seasons. Every winter, dogs shed out their summer coat and grow a nice thick for the winter season. and there, is nothing that one can do to stop this process. However, visit a veterinary doctor and get your dog examined to rule out any parasites like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection that causes hair loss.
Bedding: Dogs exposed to extreme wet and cold weather conditions may become hypothermic or even develop frostbite if they live in an area where snowfall is common. Therefore, it is advisable to check there are no draughts near the sleeping area of your loved one. Dog owners may select from a number of bedding options for their pet during the winter such as pads, blankets or quilts and straw or hay. The pet parent can also add a thick blanket to the bed. Not only will this add extra warmth, it will also provide extra padding for painful joints.
Older dogs are usually more vulnerable to the adverse effects of winters. Dogs with health conditions like a hormone imbalance, heart problems, kidney disease or diabetes are not able to regulate their body heat appropriately. Older dogs who are suffering from arthritis can experience considerable discomfort as cold weather can make their stiff joints stiffer. Talk to your vet about medication, treatment options, and ways to keep your arthritic dog fit and warm through winter.
Vaccination, De-worming and regular health checks are important considerations during winter.