Eastern Shore pets prepare for big chill

HUMANS aren’t the only ones who struggle with the cold during winter months.

Following last year’s average minimum temperature of 4.3 degrees celsius over winter, Petbarn Rosny Park is encouraging local pet owners to be vigilant in taking extra care of their pets during the cold season.

Petbarn Rosny Park store manager Simon Adkins said locals needed to keep a close eye on their pet’s wellbeing as the temperature dropped, particularly certain breeds of dog, cats and other small animals such as guinea pigs and fish.

“As members of the family, pets also need protection from the harsh frosty months,” he said.

Greencross Vet’s chief veterinary officer Rachel Chay suggested the following tips to keep pets happy, warm and rugged up this chilly winter season.

Cover up your four-legged friend

If your pet is outside during a temperature drop, they will feel the cold just like we do, and the best way to keep them warm is to get them in a jacket or coat.

The effect the cold has on your pet is determined by factors such as their species, breed, age and general health.

For example, short-haired dogs such as Jack Russells and Whippets, lean breeds with low body fat like greyhounds, young puppies that have yet to develop body fat and dogs older than seven are particularly susceptible to the cold and would benefit from a doggy jacket.

Winter-proof their sleeping quarters

Many small animals find it difficult to keep themselves warm without extra insulation, such as birds and mice.

Guinea pigs, for example, struggle when the cold drops under 18 degrees celsius.

To keep the cold out of their cages drape blankets, fleece, or cardboard over their cages to provide shelter from the chill of the winter air.

If that doesn’t keep them warm, pop in a blanket or towel to burrow into.

Be extra mindful with senior pets

Once dogs and cats reach the age of seven, they are classed as senior citizens and can be painfully affected by the cold weather.

During winter, one of the most common ailments we see in senior pets is arthritis as their sensitive joints are aggravated by cooler temperatures.

Older pets should be kept off the cold ground and be kept comfortable with extra warm and padded bedding.

If possible, keep your pets inside

If it’s too cold for us to be outside, then it’s likely too cold for our pets.

If your pet is ‘outside only’ ensure they have proper housing with raised bedding and protection from cold draughts.

A warm basket, heated bed or microwave heat pad will also help your pet cope with the cold.

Don’t overfeed your pet

As winter sets in, you may notice your pet’s appetite increases as they are burning more energy to keep warm.

It’s important Eastern Shore pet owners keep an eye on their pet’s weight to ensure they are satisfied, but not overfed, as this can be detrimental to their health.

Regular exercise is crucial

Although you may want to stay indoors during the cooler months, it is important to continue exercising your pet.

If it is a particularly frosty day, it is recommended to dress your pet in a light coat.

Avoid over-grooming

Maintaining a good grooming regime is crucial in winter.

Try to avoid shaving or cutting your pet’s hair too short as the longer fur provides an extra layer to keep them warm.