Looking After Older Pets In Winter

Follow these tips for looking after your older pets in the winter months.

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Keep Them Warm

It is really important that older pets (dogs, cats and small furries) are kept warm in the winter. This can be achieved in many easy ways:

  • Provide extra bedding – thicker beds and extra blankets for dogs and cats or extra hay for small pets.
  • Raise beds off the ground – this will keep them out of draughts.
  • Extra heating – you can get microwavable heat pads but it is important that these are well covered and not too hot to prevent burns.
  • Radiator beds – these are a great source of warmth for cats but just make sure the radiator is not on too high a heat to prevent burns.
  • Coats – a waterproof coat is a great idea for keeping dogs warm and dry when out on walks, you can get multi-layer coats with fleece lining. It can also help with winter safety if they are reflective as well.
  • Jumpers – these can keep pets warm when in the house but care should be taken if they are not used to wearing them. Always ensure that they are the right size to prevent them rubbing and causing wounds.
  • It’s just as important not to leave pets in the car in the winter as they could get extremely cold.

Keep Them Active

We need to keep our older pets active in the winter when they may just want to snuggle up inside, as old joints get stiff and sore if they are not used. Older cats may especially be reluctant to go out in the winter months, whereas it often tends to be easier to persuade a dog to go out for a walk.

  • Take them on more frequent, shorter walks to avoid them getting cold and protecting them from the elements.
  • Older dogs may find it harder to get their balance in the slippery winter months, boots may provide extra traction for them.
  • Play with them more inside – there are lots of toys to keep them active. Ensure that toys are a suitable size for your elderly pet. Think about height of toys for cats that may not be able to jump as well and watch that toys are not too hard for those that may have dental disease.
  • Puzzle toys – these are great as they will let your pet use their brains to earn their treats.
  • If it has snowed ensure that cat flaps are not blocked or frozen shut, which would then prevent cats getting in and out.
    If your pet likes swimming, consider taking them to a hydrotherapy pool so they can swim in the warmth.
  • When they have been out and about ensure that your pet is clean and dry when they come back in. If they need a bath, thoroughly dry them before they go out again.

Food & Water

  • Don’t be tempted to give them extra food in the winter as this may cause them to put on weight which will be detrimental to achy joints.
  • If you have water bowls outside, ensure that they don’t get frozen. Insulate water bottles for small furries.

Keep Them Safe

  • Microchip your pets and ensure the details are up to date. Dogs are sometimes more easily spooked in darker nights and then have the potential to run off and get lost. Cats may roam further afield in order to find warmth and again get lost.
  • Reflective collars are a good idea so that they can be seen on dark nights.
  • Keep them away from antifreeze.
  • Wash feet when they have been outside to remove any grit and salt.

Keep Them Healthy

  • Older pets may find it harder in the colder months so watch out for any changes in them and if you are worried book a check-up with your vet.
  • Animals suffering from illness or poor circulation will be more prone to the cold, so watch for signs of hypothermia (shivering and tiredness).

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