Get the answers to the most common dog and cat winter care questions.
It’s winter. Time for hot beverages, warm meals and curling up under blankets till we have to drag ourselves out of bed. But as the mercury drops, how many of us pet parents know the best things to do to keep our furry children happy and healthy during winter? To help answer some of the most commonly-asked pet health questions in winter, we spoke to a few Stockland pet stores to provide our pet parents with the best advice.
Q: How can we keep my dog or cat active when it’s too cold outside?
A: It’s vital to provide our pets with daily exercise, not only for their physical health but their mental wellness too.
For kittens and puppies, try playing a game with them like hide and seek in the house. It’s a great way to exercise their senses like sight, sound and smell as well as major muscle groups. It’s also a fun way to bond with your pet and teach obedience. Firstly, get their attention by throwing a small yummy treat, then run away and hide. Your pet will get an overall work out when they search the house for you.
Larger pets might enjoy playing fetch with their favourite soft toy, tug-of-war with an old tea towel; though just like having a kid in the house, make sure there’s plenty of room to move in and be mindful of objects like picture frames or vases that could fall and hurt you and your pet. To exercise their mind and strengthen their obedience, try teaching them a few simple commands like rolling over or shaking paw too.
Q: Does feeding our pet more food in winter help keep them warm?
A: In winter, we’re not the only ones guilty of wanting to lie in bed a little longer - our furry friends often get less exercise too. So if we increase their dinner sizes without changing their level of activity during winter, it can lead to unhealthy weight gain. If your pet is mostly indoors, feeding them their regular meal portions will be enough to see them through winter as the unburnt calories from decreased activity will turn into fat and give them a little needed insulation.
If your pet stays outdoors, then increase their food portions slightly and continue to monitor their activity levels and weight.
Q: Should we bring our outdoor pets inside during winter? Or should we keep them outside with warm clothes and blankets?
A: This all depends on the breed of the pet. Some pets like Huskies, German Shepherds and Himalayan cats for example, have thick coats of fur which are made to deal with the colder months. So if your outdoor pet has thick fur, they’re probably anticipating winter!
For the shorter-fur outdoor pets, it’s probably best to keep them in their familiar environment unless the weather becomes extreme. Make them feel comfy and warm by adding a blanket to their kennel and a jumper to their body.
It’s also important to have the kennel raised from the cold floor and to add a doggy door so the cold air doesn’t enter.
If you would like to bring your outdoor pet inside on cold winter days, that’s also a great option. However, keep in mind that pets in new environments can be destructive while adjusting to their new lifestyle. Also, as they now don’t have their usual spot to do their business, there could be accidents around the house. It’s best to set rules early and allow for potty breaks.
Q: Can pets get the flu?
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A: Yes, pets can get the cold and flu too. Just like us, their symptoms can be weakness, sneezing or eyes/nose discharge and is usually spread through canines sneezing or panting. However these conditions can also be signs of allergies or other infections. So if your pet experiences these symptoms, it’s best to visit your vet to learn how to best treat your dog or cat.